Statistics Canada says retail sales slipped 0.2 per cent to $38.9 billion in February, largely offsetting a gain in January.
New-car sales accounted for most of the decline, but five of 11 subsectors, representing 57 per cent of total retail sales, reported declines.
In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.6 per cent.
Sales of motor vehicles and parts fell 2.4 per cent, with new car dealers reporting a 2.8 per cent decline.
Food and beverage sales edged down 0.2 per cent for a second consecutive monthly decline, while gasoline stations reported a 1.7 per cent gain because of higher pump prices.
Sales fell in six provinces in February, with Ontario reporting the largest decline at 0.9 per cent.
Sales in Alberta were off 0.6 per cent, while sales rose in 0.7 per cent in Quebec and 0.4 per cent in British Columbia.