Canadian retail sales were up by a marginal 0.3% in May 2012 from the previous month, when sales dropped a revised 0.6%, according to the data released by Statistics Canada .
Eliminating the effect of prices, the volume of retail sales activity grew 0.7% in May, almost offsetting the 0.8% decline in April.
The statistics agency said retail sales, which amounted to C$38.9bn ($38.06bn) in May, have been relatively flat since November 2011.
On a monthly basis, gains were reported in six of 11 subsectors in May, representing 53% of retail trade.
Sales at food and beverage stores increased 1.6% month-on-month in May, while clothing and clothing accessories stores also registered 1.6% gain.
Higher sales at clothing stores accounted for most of the increase, advancing for a seventh time in eight months.
Supermarkets and other grocery stores led the sales increase with a 1.8% rise, the first gain in five months.
Sales in this store type have been relatively flat since the beginning of 2011, as general merchandise stores have continued to gain market share in food sales.
General merchandise stores sales grew 0.8%, partially reflecting stronger sales of food, while the ‘other general merchandise stores’ industry advanced for a seventh consecutive month with a 0.8% gain.
The agency said a 0.7% increase in sales at department stores did not offset previous month’s decline.
Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores moved up 1.9%, partially offsetting the decrease in April.
Month-on-month, sales at gasoline stations were down by 1.4% in May, reflecting lower prices at the pump.
Motor vehicle and parts dealers registered a 0.4% fall, as lower sales at new car dealers and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores accounted for most of the decline.
Electronics and appliance store sales edged down 0.8% in May and sales in this subsector have been on a downward trend since the end of 2011.
Retail sales rose in six provinces in May, with Alberta registering the largest monthly increase, rising 1.3% in May, a seventh monthly sales gain in 10 months for this province.
Continuing an upward trend, retail sales in Saskatchewan grew 2% in the month, registered a fourth consecutive monthly gain.
Sales in Ontario rose 0.2% in May, after a 1.1% decline in April, while Quebec and New Brunswick saw a 0.4% and 1.3% fall, both reported a fourth decline in five months.
Image: May retail sales in Canada improve. Photo: FreeDigitalPhoto.net