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Canada Retail Sales Rose 0.7% in May as Automobiles Hit Record

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian retail sales rose a second month in May, led by record automobile purchases and a late spring that boosted traffic at building material and gardening stores.

Sales increased 0.7 percent to C$42.0 billion ($39.1 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, faster than the 0.6 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg economist survey with 16 responses.

Motor vehicle and parts sales increased 2.5 percent to C$10.0 billion in May. New car dealership receipts rose 2.3 percent in May following a rise of 3.5 percent in April, with light trucks leading record sales of 197,740 vehicles, the agency said.

Consumer spending on big-ticket items remains strong even as policy makers continue to warn about record debt loads that may put some households at risk when interest rates rise. Today’s report also showed a 3.7 percent gain at furniture and home furnishing stores, and follows data earlier this month showing home sales reaching a four-year high.

Purchases excluding the motor vehicle and parts category increased 0.1 percent, while economists had forecast a 0.3 percent rise.

Sales advanced in seven of 11 categories marking 56 percent of total sales, including a 2.0 percent advance at gasoline stations, the seventh consecutive advance. Electronics and appliance store sales fell by 1.7 percent in May, following four earlier increases.

Building material and garden supply sales rose 3.5 percent to C$2.34 billion, “following a delayed start to spring,” Statistics Canada said.

April’s retail sales increase was revised to 1.3 percent from an earlier estimate of 1.1 percent.

The volume of sales for May rose 0.4 percent. That measure excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth.

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