RTTNews - Canadian retail sales unexpectedly rose once again in June, driven by higher gasoline prices, according to data released Monday by Statistics Canada.

Retail sales in current dollars rose 1.0% in June to $34.4 billion. Retail sales have risen in five of the last six months, following large drops at the end of 2008.

Economists expected a month-over-month decline of 0.3%, compared with an initially reported gain of 1.2% in May.

Sales rose in six of eight retail trade sectors in June. The automotive sector was the largest contributor to overall growth, with a 2.1% sales gain. A 4.7% rise in sales at gasoline stations was the main contributor to June's increase in the automotive sector. Higher gas prices drove this advance.

In the rest of the automotive sector, sales rose 2.2% at used and recreational motor vehicle and parts dealers. This second consecutive monthly increase followed six months of decreases, and was partly due to higher sales at parts dealers. Sales at new car dealers increased 0.4% in June after a strong gain in May.

Food and beverage stores saw sales increase 1.3% after being fairly flat in May. Most of the advance can be attributed to a 1.2% rise in sales at supermarkets, which completely offset the declines registered in the previous two months. The increase at beer, wine and liquor stores (+1.9%) was the seventh in nine months.

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