Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian retail sales rose more than three times faster than economists forecast in September on the biggest gain at new car dealerships in more than four years.
Sales rose 1 percent to a record C$40.7 billion ($38.6 billion), the third consecutive increase, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. The gain exceeded all 19 economist forecasts in a Bloomberg survey that had a median 0.3 percent increase.
The report adds to evidence that consumers continue to be key driver of the economy, even with debt levels at records. Consumer confidence reached a 2-1/2 year high at the end of September as employment rose and the housing market remained buoyant, according to the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index.
The report “suggests consumers still have a bit of optimism,” said David Tulk, chief macro strategist for TD Securities Inc. in Toronto.
The Canadian dollar weakened 0.2 percent to C$1.0538 per U.S. dollar at 9:26 a.m. in Toronto. Statistics Canada reported separately that Canada’s annual inflation rate slowed more than economists forecast to 0.7 percent in October.
The Bank of Canada estimates that consumption will contribute 1.3 percentage points to the 1.6 percent growth rate it forecasts for the economy this year.
Motor vehicle and parts sales rose 4.1 percent to C$9.72 billion, a gain of 10.5 percent since September 2012. New car dealership receipts jumped 5 percent to C$7.90 billion, the biggest rise since January 2009.
Purchases excluding the motor vehicle and parts category were little changed, lagging economist forecasts they would increase 0.2 percent.
Food and beverage store sales fell 0.3 percent in September while gasoline station sales rose 0.8 percent. Sales advanced in six of 11 categories representing 55 percent of total sales.
The August retail sales increase was reduced to 0.1 percent from an earlier estimate of 0.2 percent.
The volume of sales rose 1 percent in September. That measure excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth.
Sales in September were 3.6 percent higher than a year earlier, Statistics Canada said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at firstname.lastname@example.org