By Robb M. Stewart

OTTAWA--Canadian retail sales fell more than expected in March, marking a third consecutive decline, though sales are expected to recover in April.

Sales decreased 0.2% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted 66.44 billion Canadian dollars, the equivalent of about $48.39 billion, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The drop was sharper than the 0.1% dip expected by economists and the data agency's preliminary estimate of little change in sales for the month. It comes after February sales edged down 0.1%.

Compared with a year earlier, retail sales in March were 1.9% higher.

The agency said early indications suggest that retail sales increased 0.7% in April, though the figure was based on responses from 51% of the companies surveyed and will be revised.

The decline in March was led by weaker sales of furniture, home furnishings, electronics and appliances. Stripping out motor vehicle and parts dealers, sales for the month were down 0.6%.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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