Retail sales rose 3.6 per cent in March

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 3.6 per cent to $57.6 billion in March as COVID-19 restrictions relaxed in some parts of the country.

However, a preliminary estimate suggests that retail sales in April fell 5.1 per cent as governments imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Statistics Canada says the March increase was led by a 19.8 per cent increase at building material and garden equipment and supply stores.

Meanwhile, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 23.6 per cent to reach their highest level since the start of the pandemic.

Core retail sales — which exclude sales at gasoline stations, and motor vehicle and parts dealers — rose 4.7 per cent.

In volume terms, retail sales rose 3.2 per cent in March.