Business

Video games drive retail sales higher

Stronger sales at most types of stores helped drive retail sales 0.3 per cent higher in November, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

November sales increase 0.3 per cent to $38.7 billion

A customer fills his tank up with gasoline. Gas sales inched higher in November, the eighth time in 2011 that was the case. (Joshua Lott/Reuters )

Stronger sales at most types of stores helped drive retail sales 0.3 per cent higher in November, the fourth consecutive monthly gain.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday that seven of 11 sectors the agency tracks saw increased sales, representing almost two thirds of all retail activity in Canada.

Gasoline stations saw sales increase 0.8 per cent, the eighth such increase in 2011.

Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 2.9 per cent, based largely on strong sales of video games.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim were released on November 8 and 11, respectively, and each shattered sales records for their particular genre of game.

The housing-related furniture and electronics sectors saw the steepest declines, at 0.8 and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Economists welcomed the relatively strong showing, but cautioned that it may not be sustainable.

"November sales may prove to be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, as the increased prevalence of U.S. 'Black Friday' style deals in Canada simply shifts sales forward one month," Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Leslie Preston said.

"Despite consumers' festive holiday spending in 2011, we don't expect this pace to be sustained in 2012."