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Manitoba sees drop in retail sales

OTTAWA -- Retail sales in Canada rose 0.3 per cent to $39.1 billion in August, Statistic Canada reported Tuesday, disappointing economists even though the numbers met consensus forecasts.

"Digging beneath the surface, the impact on GDP looks disappointing, as in real terms, sales volumes were down 0.3 per cent, with all of the rise in nominal sales therefore attributable to inflation, including a 2.9 per cent rise in gas station sales," Avery Shenfeld, CIBC World Markets chief economist, wrote in a commentary.

"Sales were otherwise mixed across sectors, with gains in general merchandise but a drop in clothing, health and autos," Shenfeld said.

Manitoba was one of four provinces to post a drop in retail sales from July to August, Statistics Canada said. Manitoba retailers rang up $1.385 billion worth of sales during the month. That was down 0.4 per cent, or $6 million, from July's total of $1.391 billion, but was still a 1.2 per cent improvement from August 2011's total of $1.369 billion. And year-to-date, Manitoba's sales were still running 2.5 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first eight months -- $10.86 billion versus $10.60 billion.

Statistics Canada said sales at general merchandise stores in Canada increased for a second consecutive month, up 0.6 per cent. Department store sales edged up just 0.2 per cent while those at miscellaneous retailers declined for a second month in a row, falling 3.1 per cent.

TD takes Target's credit card biz

TORONTO -- TD Bank Group is picking up the U.S. credit card portfolio of Target Corp. as part of a broader relationship with the big American retailer.

The seven-year agreement announced Tuesday will also have TD Bank (TSX:TD) become the exclusive issuer of Target-branded credit cards in the United States.

The bank said Target's credit card business has a gross outstanding balance of US$5.9 billion, with about five million active accounts under both Visa and private-label brands. TD will also fund the receivables for all accounts.

Facebook records $59M Q3 loss

NEW YORK -- Facebook is reporting a loss for its third quarter, though revenue rose by nearly a third. The results exceeded Wall Street's expectations.

The world's biggest social media company posted a loss of $59 million (two cents per share) in the July-September period. That's down from earnings of $227 million, or 10 cents per share a year ago, when Facebook was still privately held.

Court rules lap dances taxable

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Lap dances are taxable because they don't promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavours do, New York's highest court concluded Tuesday in a sharply divided ruling.

The court split 4-3, with the dissenting judges saying there's no distinction in state law between "highbrow dance and lowbrow dance," so the case raises "significant constitutional problems."

The lawsuit was filed by Nite Moves in suburban Albany, which was arguing fees for admission to the strip club and for private dances are exempt from sales taxes.

The court majority said taxes apply to many entertainment venues, such as amusement parks and sporting events. It ruled the club has failed to prove it qualifies for the exemption for "dramatic or musical arts performances" that was adopted by the legislature "with the evident purpose of promoting cultural and artistic performances in local communities."

The majority reached similar conclusions about admission fees to watch dances done onstage around a pole, as well as for lap dances or private dances.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2012 B7

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