Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, February 2012

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Manufacturing sales edged down 0.3% to $49.1 billion in February, following a 1.3% decrease in January. Lower sales were recorded for the motor vehicle assembly, food, and motor vehicle parts industries. These declines were mostly offset by increases in the aerospace product and parts, non-metallic mineral products, and petroleum and coal products industries.

Sales decreased in 11 of 21 industries, representing about 64% of Canadian manufacturing. Sales of durable goods rose 0.2% while those of non-durable goods declined 0.8%.

Constant dollar sales fell 0.1% in February, indicating a decrease in the volume of manufactured goods.

Chart 1 
Manufacturing sales edge downward
Chart 1: Manufacturing sales edge downward

Chart description: Manufacturing sales edge downward

CSV version of the chart

Sales down in the motor vehicle and parts industries

Motor vehicle assembly sales were down 8.7%, the first decline since June 2011. Similarly, motor vehicle parts sales were down 7.2%, the first decrease since August.

Food manufacturers posted the second-largest decline in sales in dollar terms, down 3.1% to $6.9 billion. This was the largest decrease in the industry since June 2010 and partly reflected declines in the grain and oilseed milling industry, and the seafood product preparation and packaging industry.

In the chemical industry, sales declined 2.5% to $4.0 billion. The decrease reflected lower volumes reported by a large number of manufacturers.

These declines were largely offset by increases in the aerospace product and parts, non-metallic mineral product, and petroleum and coal products industries.

In the aerospace product and parts industry, production advanced 32.1% to $1.2 billion in February, following a 32.7% drop in January.

Non-metallic mineral product sales were up 22.9% to $1.2 billion. Some manufacturers indicated that favourable weather conditions stimulated sales related to construction activity.

Petroleum and coal products manufacturers reported a 3.0% increase in sales. The increase partly reflects a 1.7% rise in prices in the industry.

Sales declines centred in Ontario

The vast majority of the sales declines were in Ontario, where manufacturers reported a 2.7% decrease to $22.0 billion, following a decrease of 1.0% in January. Sales decreased in 13 of 21 industries, representing more than three-quarters of the province's manufacturing. In particular, motor vehicle assembly sales fell 9.1% while motor vehicle parts sales were down 7.3%. A 5.0% decline in the food industry also contributed to the decrease.

In contrast, manufacturing sales advanced 2.7% to $11.9 billion in Quebec. The increase reflected higher sales in the petroleum and coal products and machinery industries. An increase in production in the aerospace product and parts industry also contributed to the provincial gain.

Sales in Alberta were up 1.8% to $6.5 billion. A 6.5% gain in petroleum and coal products sales was largely responsible for the increase.

Inventory levels rise

Inventories rose 0.3% in February to $65.8 billion, the 16th gain in 17 months. Inventories were up in 10 of 21 industries.

Inventory levels in the computer and electronic products industry advanced 5.0% to $3.4 billion. Higher inventories of raw materials were responsible for most of the gain.

In the machinery industry, inventories rose 1.4% to $6.9 billion. Manufacturers reported higher inventories for all three stages of fabrication: raw materials, goods in process and finished products inventories.

Petroleum and coal products inventories advanced 1.7% to $4.9 billion. A number of refineries increased the value of finished products on hand in February.

Most of these gains were offset by declines in the fabricated metal product (-1.0%), other transportation equipment (-11.9%) and motor vehicle assembly (-4.2%) industries.

Chart 2 
Inventory levels rise
Chart 2: Inventory levels rise

Chart description: Inventory levels rise

CSV version of the chart

The inventory-to-sales ratio advanced to 1.34 in February from 1.33 in January. The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Chart 3 
The inventory-to-sales ratio increases
Chart 3: The inventory-to-sales ratio increases

Chart description: The inventory-to-sales ratio increases

CSV version of the chart

Unfilled orders increase

Unfilled orders rose 1.9% to $61.6 billion in February, the first increase since November 2011. Despite the gain in February, unfilled orders have been relatively flat since September 2011.

A 3.0% advance in the aerospace product and parts industry was mostly responsible for the increase. Excluding this industry, unfilled orders were up 0.9%.

In the machinery industry, unfilled orders rose 7.6% to $8.0 billion. The gain was concentrated in the engine, turbine and power equipment manufacturing industry.

Chart 4 
Unfilled orders rise
Chart 4: Unfilled orders rise

Chart description: Unfilled orders rise

CSV version of the chart

New orders increased 2.5% to $50.3 billion in February, the seventh gain in nine months. The gain largely stemmed from increases in the aerospace product and parts, and machinery industries.

Note to readers

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and are expressed in current dollars unless otherwise specified.

Preliminary data are provided for the current reference month. Revised data, based on late responses, are updated for the three previous months.

Non-durable goods industries include food, beverage and tobacco products, textile mills, textile product mills, clothing, leather and allied products, paper, printing and related support activities, petroleum and coal products, chemicals, and plastics and rubber products.

Durable goods industries include wood products, non-metallic mineral products, primary metal, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, transportation equipment, furniture and related products and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Production-based industries

For the aerospace industry and shipbuilding industries, the value of production is used instead of sales of goods manufactured. This value is calculated by adjusting monthly sales of goods manufactured by the monthly change in inventories of goods in process and finished products manufactured.

Unfilled orders are a stock of orders that will contribute to future sales assuming that the orders are not cancelled.

New orders are those received whether sold in the current month or not. New orders are measured as the sum of sales for the current month plus the change in unfilled orders from the previous month to the current month.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table304-0014, CANSIM table304-0015 and CANSIM table377-0008.

Table 304-0014: Canada data (sales, inventories, orders) by industry.

Table 304-0015: Provincial sales by industry.

Table 377-0008: Constant dollar sales, inventories and orders.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2101.

Data from the March Monthly Survey of Manufacturing will be released on May 16.

For more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Michael Schimpf (613-951-9832;, Manufacturing and Energy Division.