12/21/2011 09:07 EST | Updated 02/20/2012 05:12 EST

Retail sales edge up on car surge

Retail sales rose one per cent to $38.6 billion in October, with seven of 11 subsectors representing 76 per cent of retail sales reporting gains.

Statistics Canada says the increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, and gasoline stations, where sales rose two per cent.

Gasoline station sales rose 1.8 per cent, mainly reflecting higher prices at the pump. Sales in this subsector have been on an upward trend since mid-2010.

Furniture and home furnishings stores were one of the few laggards, where sales decreased for a second consecutive month, down 0.8 per cent during the month.

Regionally, eight provinces saw gains in October, especially in Western Canada. Alberta posted the strongest increase at three per cent.

In B.C., they rose by 1.7 per cent, while in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, sales gains were even stronger, up 1.9 per cent in each.

After two consecutive monthly gains, sales in Ontario edged down 0.1 per cent in October.

On an annual basis, retail sales are on track to increase by 4.4 per cent this quarter, Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said in a note.

"That’s important, because this Friday’s October GDP report was otherwise facing bleak prospects," he said.