Canada retail sales jump in October as consumers buy more cars

FILE PHOTO: People shop inside at the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) flagship department store in Toronto January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales rose far more than expected in October, posting their biggest increase in nine months as consumers bought more new and used cars, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

The 1.5 percent increase handily topped forecasts for a gain of 0.3 percent and was the strongest performance since January. Stripping out the effects of price changes, volumes were also strong, up 1.4 percent.

Seven of the 11 sectors had sales increases and accounted for 79 percent of retail trade.

Motor vehicle sales contributed the most to the gain, up 3.3 percent as Canadians continued to purchase cars. Vehicle sales have been robust this year, putting 2017 on track to hit 2 million for the first time, according to an industry forecast.

Canadians also did more shopping at food and beer and wine stores, sending sales there up 1.1 percent.

Sales at general merchandise stores were up 1.8 percent, their first increase in three months, while electronics and appliance purchases, which had declined in September, rebounded by 1.4 percent.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn