It was the fifth sales increase in six months, although with automotive sales excluded, sales fell 0.5 per cent.
Gains were reported in five of 11 subsectors, representing 52 per cent of total retail sales.
Retail sales rose in six provinces, with Ontario recording the highest gain of 1.5 per cent.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 3.7 per cent, with new car sales up 4.6 per cent, the highest monthly growth rate in three years.
Sales also rose at general merchandise stores, department stores, clothing and clothing accessory outlets and shoe stores.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw sales slip 5.2 per cent in dollar terms, offsetting a 4.0 per cent rise in December.
Sales were also down at food and beverage stores, electronics and appliance dealers and gas stations.