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Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February to $50.6-billion, the first increase since October.

Economists had expected an increase of 0.4 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Sales were up in five of 11 subsectors, representing 73 per cent of retail trade.

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Retail sales at general merchandise stores, which include department stores, warehouse clubs as well as home and auto supplies stores, rose 3.8 per cent, while sales at new car dealers helped motor vehicle and parts dealers sales climb 1.4 per cent.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 1.6 per cent after posting gains in December and January.

Overall retail sales in volume terms were up 0.2 per cent.

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