Gasoline drags down retail sales

OTTAWA — StatCan reports that retail sales edged down 0.1% in April, following two months of gains. Lower sales at food and beverage stores as well as electronics and appliance stores offset higher sales in most other subsectors, the agency said. Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation showed continued growth in April. Receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores rose for the third consecutive month, climbing by 3.4%. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers advanced for the fifth straight month, with an increase of 0.8%. According Toronto-based retail consultant Ed Strapagiel, however, the numbers only tell part of the story, as gas stations account for the overwhelming bulk of the decline. Most retail sectors continued to see gains in April.