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Retail sales climbed 0.7 per cent in November to $58.1B, Statistics Canada says

Uptick in retail sales of 0.7 per cent was down from the 1.6 per cent growth recorded in October
A sales clerk sanitizes appliances at a furniture store in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. on Monday, May 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Retail sales rose for the second month in a row in November as Canadian consumers spent more on gasoline, building materials as well as food and beverages, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Yet the uptick in retail sales of 0.7 per cent to $58.1 billion was down from the 1.6 per cent growth recorded in October, indicating a slowdown in the burst in spending posted early last fall.

The potential slowdown is underscored by Statistics Canada’s preliminary estimate for December, which pointed to a drop in retail sales of 2.1 per cent for the month.

Though the agency cautioned its early estimate would be revised, it suggests a rocky economic recovery as periods of accelerated growth could be followed by setbacks.

Statistics Canada said severe flooding in British Columbia and parts of Atlantic Canada damaged infrastructure and disrupted business operations, impacting retail sales in November.

Overall, November’s uptick in retail sales was led by a 4.9 per cent surge in gas station sales, a three per cent increase in sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers and a one per cent increase in food and beverage stores sales.

Core retail sales across Canada — which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers — increased 0.5 per cent, the agency said.

Some of the bright spots in consumer spending included sales of clothing and clothing accessories, which increased three per cent in November.

Sales at jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores rose 5.7 per cent.

Sales in November climbed in six of 11 subsectors, representing nearly 63.8 per cent of retail trade, Statistics Canada said.

In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.2 per cent in November.

– The Canadian Press