Canadian retailers saw higher sales in February before COVID-19 hit

Statistics Canada says retail sales rose in February for a fourth consecutive month as they climbed 0.3 per cent to $52.2 billion, boosted by sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at general merchandise stores.

The agency says it was the first time retail sales grew for four months in a row since the period ending in October 2018.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.1 per cent in February, while general merchandise stores sales climbed 1.4 per cent in February.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were unchanged for February.

Economists had expected an overall increase of 0.2 per cent in retail sales and 0.3 per cent excluding autos, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Retail sales in volume terms increased 0.2 per cent.

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