Canadian retail sales likely up 2.1% in August as COVID-19 restrictions lift

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FILE PHOTO: Stage two COVID reopening in Ontario

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales most likely rose 2.1% in August after dipping 0.6% in July as restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate on Thursday.

The decrease in July, the third drop in the past four months, was smaller than the 1.2% month-over-month retreat forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

"With only a modest pullback in retail sales in July, a rebound in August, and surging spending on services, the economy will be driven by consumer spending growth in the third quarter," Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Retail trade in July fell in part due to lower sales at food and beverage stores, which coincided with the easing of pandemic restrictions for restaurants and bars.

Statscan said 0.5% of retailers were closed at some point in July, compared with approximately 5.2% in June.

It also noted the share of retail sales accounted for by electronic commerce shrank to 4.6% from 6.2% in June as shoppers returned to retail stores.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Paul Simao)

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