Canadians opened their wallets in July, pushing retail sales 0.7 per cent higher to $39 billion, Statistics Canada reported today.

The gain was more than enough to offset a 0.4 per cent decline a month ealier, the data agency said.

"The details are as strong as the headline," Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said in a note. "The [specifics] are much stronger than consensus thought and much, much stronger than we had anticipated."

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts stores led the way, as did general merchandise sales. All in all, eight of the 11 sectors that the agency tracks were higher.

Sales at electronics and appliance stores declined by 1.7 per cent. That's the third decline in the past four months, and the indsutry has been trending generally downward since September 2011.

Gasoline station sales increased by 0.7 per cent even as gasoline prices themselves declined.

"What probably happened here is higher sales of other items also sold at gas stations," Holt said.

Regionally, retail sales were higher in all provinces. The laggard was Ontario, which eked out a 0.1 per cent increase.