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Business  

BC Retail Sales Up

Retail sales advanced for a third consecutive month in July, up 0.5% to a record $28.9 billion. This followed increases of 0.3% in June and 0.6% in May. In fact, July's increase was the sixth monthly sales gain so far this year, following a period of successive declines in the last four months of 2003. Previously, retail sales had generally been rising since the fall of 2001.

Retailers reported sales increases in seven provinces in July, with those in British Columbia enjoying the strongest growth. Retail sales jumped 1.2% in British Columbia, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase. Sales in that province have been increasing rapidly since the beginning of 2004, after a year of more moderate gains.

Consumers returned shopping in several retail sectors in July, pushing sales up strongly in furniture, home furnishings and electronics stores (+1.7%), general merchandise stores (+1.6%), building and outdoor home supplies stores (+1.6%) and clothing and accessories stores (+1.5%).

Smaller sales advances were noted in the miscellaneous sector (+0.7%) and in food and beverage stores (+0.5%) in July. Retailers classified in the miscellaneous sector include sporting goods, office supplies, hobby, music and book stores.

Consumers reduced their spending by 1.5% in pharmacies and personal care stores in July, following a strong 1.9% jump in the previous month. Sales were also down in the automotive sector (-0.3%), despite a 1.4% sales gain enjoyed by new car dealers in July. A price-induced decline in gasoline station sales (-2.9%) and a sales drop suffered by dealers of used and recreational vehicles and auto parts (-2.2%) led to lower results in the overall automotive sector.


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