(Adds details from report)
OTTAWA, May 18 (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales rose by the most in five months in March, driven by higher spending on vehicles and clothing, Statistics Canada reported on Friday.
The 0.6 percent increase, which topped economists’ forecasts of a 0.3 percent gain, was the biggest since October. February was upwardly revised to 0.5 percent from an initially reported 0.4 percent.
Stripping out the effects of prices changes, sales volume rose 0.8 percent.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 3 percent, lifted by demand for new cars. Excluding vehicles, retail sales dipped 0.2 percent.
Consumers also spent more at clothing stores, with sales up 2.5 percent, while purchases at general merchandise stores were up 1 percent.
The gains were offset by a 1.2 percent drop in food sales and a 1.9 percent decline at gasoline stations as consumers faced higher prices at the pump.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Steve Orlofsky