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Canadians cut retail spending in August


October 24, 2008
By The Canadian Press

Oct. 24, 2008 – Canadian consumers reeled in their spending habits a little further in
August as retail sales dipped 0.3 per cent to $35.9 billion.

Canadian consumers reeled in their spending habits
a little further in August as retail sales dipped 0.3 per cent to $35.9
billion.

A 1.8 per cent sales decline in the automotive sector more than
offset higher sales in five of the industry's seven other sectors.
Excluding automotive, retail sales in the other seven combined rose 0.4
per cent.

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"You can add retail sales to the growing list of indicators
that are flashing red for the Canadian economy," said CIBC World
Markets economist Krishen Rangasamy in a note.

"What matters for GDP (gross domestic product) is real consumer
spending, and we've now seen declining retail volumes in three of the
last four months."

Price changes had little effect as retail sales in volume terms also declined by 0.3 per cent in August.

Much of the decline reported by the automotive sector in August
was attributable to a 3.7 per cent drop in sales at gasoline stations,
where sales fell for the first time since September 2007.

Sales at clothing and accessories stores declined 0.9 per cent, their second straight drop.

British Columbia posted the largest decline in retail sales
among the provinces, falling 0.9 per cent in August. Retailers in
Quebec and New Brunswick posted lower sales after four straight monthly
increases.

Sales changed little in the other provinces in August.

"With the credit crisis flaring up again in September, prompting
a steep drop in the TSX and consumer confidence, the outlook for sales
doesn't look good," said BMO Capital Markets economist Benjamin Reitzes.


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