Retail sales rose for the second month in a row in November as Canadian consumers spent more on gasoline, building materials as well as food and beverages, Statistics Canada said Friday.
Yet the uptick in retail sales of 0.7% to $58.1 billion was down from the 1.6% growth recorded in October, indicating a slowdown in the burst in spending posted early last fall.
The potential slowdown is underscored by Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate for December, which pointed to a drop in retail sales of 2.1% for the month.
Though the agency cautioned its early estimate would be revised, it suggested a rocky economic recovery as periods of accelerated growth could be followed by setbacks.
Statistics Canada said severe flooding in British Columbia and parts of Atlantic Canada damaged infrastructure and disrupted business operations, impacting retail sales in November.
Overall, November's uptick in retail sales was led by a 4.9% surge in gas station sales, a 3% increase in sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers and a 1% increase in food and beverage stores sales.
Core retail sales across Canada—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.5%, the agency said.
Some of the bright spots in consumer spending included sales of clothing and clothing accessories, which increased 3% in November.
Sales at jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores rose 5.7%.
Sales in November climbed in six of 11 subsectors, representing nearly 63.8% of retail trade, Statistics Canada said.