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OTTAWA, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales rose far more than expected in October as consumers bought more at general merchandise stores, although they paid more for gasoline, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.
Sales rose 1.1 percent in October, the third straight monthly advance, and topped economists' expectations for a gain of 0.2 percent.
While higher prices at the pump were the main contributor, there were signs of strength more broadly with sales up in nine of 11 sectors, representing 90 percent of total retail trade.
Sales at general merchandise stores jumped 1.9 percent, which could suggest families were starting to spend the child benefit checks the government began mailing out in July.
Clothing sales also rose 1.4 percent and gains were seen across store types.
Excluding the effects of price changes, retail sales volumes rose 0.6 percent, which could bode well for broader economic growth at the start of the fourth quarter. The economy is expected to have slowed at the end of the year following a strong rebound in the third quarter.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr