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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, April 2013

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Released: 2013-06-14

Manufacturing sales fell 2.4% in April to $48.2 billion — the fourth decline in five months and the largest monthly percentage drop since August 2009. Lower sales in the petroleum and coal product, and primary metal industries were largely responsible for the decline.

Sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing about 86% of Canadian manufacturing.

Constant dollar manufacturing sales fell 1.6% as sales volumes were lower in April.

Sales of durable (-1.6%) and non-durable (-3.2%) goods declined in April.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales fall - Description and data table
Manufacturing sales fall

Chart 1: Manufacturing sales fall - Description and data table

Petroleum and coal sales down

Sales of petroleum and coal products fell 8.8% in April to $6.3 billion — the lowest level since June 2011. Since November 2012, sales of petroleum and coal products have fallen by 14.0%. In April, some refineries reported that either maintenance or the switch to summer fuels required production to be slowed or halted for a longer than normal period of time.

Primary metal manufacturing sales were down 8.7% in April to $3.4 billion — the lowest level since May 2010. There were widespread declines in the industry, which reflected lower volumes of goods sold. Sales in the primary metal industry have declined in four of the past five months. Since November 2012, sales have fallen by 11.0%.

Sales of transportation equipment were down 1.7% in April, following two months of gains. Notwithstanding the lower figure, April's sales were 14.2% higher than January 2013. Contributing to the decline was a 2.2% reduction in motor vehicle sales and a 3.3% drop in aerospace production.

Offsetting these decreases was a 4.9% increase in sales of wood products. Sales of wood products have risen in 11 of the past 12 months and have reached their highest level since January 2007. Many wood product manufacturers have indicated that they have increased both production and sales. Sales were 38.5% higher than April 2012, partially reflecting an increase in prices of more than 10%.

Largest declines in Quebec and Ontario

Sales fell in eight provinces in April, with the largest declines in Quebec and Ontario.

In Quebec, sales declined 6.8% as both durable and non-durable goods sales were down. Sales of non-durable goods fell 7.5% while sales of durable goods were down 6.2%, reflecting a 12.1% drop in sales of primary metals. Quebec's sales were $11.0 billion in April, the lowest level since December 2010 as Quebec manufacturers have reported lower sales in 8 of the past 11 months.

The 1.3% decline in Ontario sales reflected lower sales in the transportation equipment, petroleum and coal, and primary metal industries. Ontario sales have fallen in 7 of the past 10 months.

Inventories continue to rise

Inventories rose 0.6% to $69.0 billion in April, the fourth consecutive increase. April inventory levels were the highest since this series began in 1992. The increase reflects higher inventories in the aerospace, and computer and electronic product industries, which both rose 4.8%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventories continue to rise - Description and data table
Inventories continue to rise

Chart 2: Inventories continue to rise - Description and data table

The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.39 in March to 1.43 in April.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Inventory-to-sales ratio increases - Description and data table
Inventory-to-sales ratio increases

Chart 3: Inventory-to-sales ratio increases - Description and data table

Unfilled orders edge down

Unfilled orders edged down 0.1% in April, the second consecutive decline. Notwithstanding this change, April's unfilled orders were the fourth highest month on record since the current series began in 1992.

The decline reflects a 2.0% drop in unfilled orders of fabricated metal products and a reduction in other transportation equipment unfilled orders. These were partially offset by higher unfilled orders in the machinery and aerospace industries.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders edge down - Description and data table
Unfilled orders edge down

Chart 4: Unfilled orders edge down - Description and data table

New orders fell 0.9% in April, reflecting declines in the petroleum and coal product, primary metal, and food industries. New orders were up in the aerospace industry, partly offsetting the declines.

  Note to readers

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

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.

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

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

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

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