Retail sales rose slightly in May from April, with strong gains in gas stations and seasonal goods almost completely offset by drops in cars and parts and food and beverage stores.

Sales in May rose 0.1 per cent to $37.5 billion, Statistics Canada said Friday. While the month-over-month gain was small, the May figure is still four per cent above sales in May 2010.

 Where Canadians spent in May

Store category

Food and beverages  $8.57
Vehicles and parts  $8.07
Gas stations  $4.79
General merchandise  $4.72
Health, personal care  $2.68
Building materials, garden supplies  $2.21
Clothing, accessories  $2.13
Furniture, furnishings  $1.25
Electronics, appliances  $1.22
Sporting goods, hobby, books, music  $0.94
Miscellaneous  $0.89
Source: Statistics Canada

Sales rose in seven of 11 subsectors, with building materials and garden equipment jumping 3.3 per cent.

"More favourable weather conditions stimulated sales of hardware and lawn and garden products," the agency said. That group was followed by miscellaneous retailers and gas stations. Among sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, where sales rose 1.3 per cent, "sales were strong at sporting good stores," Statistics Canada said.

However, the two largest sectors, vehicles and parts and food and beverage, both fell. Vehicles were off one per cent and food and beverage 0.9 per cent. Together, they account for about $16.6 billion of total May retail sales.

General merchandise stores posted the fourth increase in five months.

Six provinces reported higher sales, led by Prince Edward Island, up two per cent, and Manitoba, up 1.5 per cent.

Sales at British Columbia retailers fell 0.7 per cent. Yukon sales dropped 5.4 per cent, but had the highest year-over-year gain among the provinces and territories, at 17.4 per cent.