Wholesale trade, July 2012

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Wholesale sales fell 0.6% to $49.5 billion in July, following a 0.3% decline in June. Among the seven subsectors, five subsectors, representing 85% of total sales, reported declines.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were down 0.3% in July.

Chart 1 
Wholesale sales decrease in July
Chart 1: Wholesale sales decrease in July

Chart description: Wholesale sales decrease in July

CSV version of the chart

Widespread declines in wholesale trade

The largest sales decrease in dollar terms was in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, where sales fell 1.5% to $9.3 billion in July. This decline was based solely on weakness in the food industry, which fell 2.0% for the month. This was the industry's largest decrease since October 2009.

Sales in the miscellaneous subsector were down 1.7%, a third consecutive decrease. The agricultural supplies industry (-6.1%) accounted for most of this subsector's decline in July.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector decreased 0.9% in July, the first decline in four months. The computer and communications equipment and supplies industry (-2.0%) and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-0.7%) accounted for most of the drop.

Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector decreased 0.8%, reflecting a 1.4% decline in the motor vehicle industry, which registered its first loss after five months of growth.

The largest increase in dollar terms occurred in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.7%), which increased for a third consecutive month. Higher sales in four of the six industries in this subsector were responsible for the growth.

Wholesale sales down in six provinces

Wholesale sales fell in six provinces in July, with Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba accounting for most of the national decrease.

Chart 2 
Wholesale sales down in six provinces
Chart 2: Wholesale sales down in six provinces

Chart description: Wholesale sales down in six provinces

CSV version of the chart

Sales in Ontario, which account for close to 50% of total wholesale sales, decreased 1.4% in July after five months of consecutive increases.

In Quebec, sales fell by 0.8% in July. Despite this decline, sales in Quebec have increased 5.1% since the beginning of 2012.

Sales in Manitoba fell 3.1%, the third consecutive monthly decline.

Alberta registered the largest increase in dollar terms, advancing 2.2% for the month. This follows a 2.8% decline in June.

Inventories continue to grow

Inventories increased 1.2% to $61.1 billion in July, posting their eighth consecutive monthly increase. Overall, 20 of the 25 industries registered higher inventories.

The largest increases in dollar terms were in the new motor vehicle parts and accessories industry (+5.0%) and the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry (+2.4%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.21 in June to 1.23 in July.

The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Note to readers

All the data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

Total wholesale sales expressed in volume are calculated by deflating current dollar values using relevant price indexes. The wholesale sales series in chained (2007) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2007 as the reference year.

Data published this month on total wholesale sales in volume, including the chain Fisher volume index, have been revised from January 2004 onward to reflect methodological enhancements. In addition, the reference year has changed from 2002 to 2007 for these volume data. For more information, see Sales in volume for Wholesale Trade.

The old table 081-0013 has been replaced by CANSIM table 081-0015. Data for July 2012 as well as data from January 2004 are now available in this new CANSIM table.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table081-0011, CANSIM table081-0012 and CANSIM table081-0015.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2401.

The July 2012 issue of Wholesale Trade (Catalogue number63-008-X, free) will soon be available.

Wholesale trade data for August will be released on October 18.

For more information, or to order data, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Steve Chadder (613-951-0303; steve.chadder@statcan.gc.ca), Distributive Trades Division.