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Wholesale trade, April 2015

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Released: 2015-06-17

Wholesale sales

$55.2 billion

April 2015


(monthly change)

Wholesale sales rose 1.9% to $55.2 billion in April, a second consecutive increase. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, led by the motor vehicle and parts subsector. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales increased 0.4%.

In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 2.0%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Wholesale sales increase in April
Wholesale sales increase in April

Higher sales in four subsectors

The motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded the largest gain in dollar terms in April, rising 9.3% to $9.9 billion. A second consecutive increase in the motor vehicle industry (+12.3%) accounted for most of the gain. Higher imports of passenger cars and light trucks were recorded in both March and April.

Following three consecutive declines, the miscellaneous subsector rose 3.0% to $7.5 billion. Four of its five industries contributed to the increase, led by the other miscellaneous industry (+7.1%), which includes wholesalers of goods such as logs, wood chips, minerals, ores and precious metals. The gain in the other miscellaneous industry more than offset the decline in March.

Sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector increased 1.5% to $11.3 billion, more than offsetting the declines in February and March. The construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+4.8%) led the gain, its second increase in six months. Sales in this industry were 0.8% lower than in April 2014.

Following five consecutive monthly gains, the food, beverage and tobacco subsector recorded lower sales in April, decreasing 2.0% to $10.4 billion. All of the subsector's industries contributed to the decline, led by the food industry (-2.1%).

Sales up in seven provinces

Wholesale sales rose in seven provinces in April, representing 89% of total wholesale sales. Ontario accounted for most of the gain.

Sales in Ontario rose 3.4% to $27.5 billion, a second consecutive increase. The motor vehicle and parts subsector was the largest contributor to the gain.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector also led the gains in Quebec, where sales rose 1.0% to $9.8 billion, and Nova Scotia, where sales increased 10.3% to $772 million. In both provinces, the gains in April more than offset the declines in March.

Manitoba recorded its fourth increase in five months as sales rose 2.0% to $1.5 billion. The miscellaneous subsector was the largest contributor to the gain. This subsector also contributed to higher sales in Saskatchewan, where sales rose 0.6% to $2.4 billion.

Following two consecutive monthly gains, sales decreased 1.9% to $5.2 billion in British Columbia. Declines were widespread, led by the building material and supplies subsector.

Inventories rise in April

Inventories rose for a sixth consecutive month in April, up 0.5% to $71.8 billion, the highest level on record. Gains were recorded in five of seven subsectors, which together represented 83% of wholesale inventories.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale inventories increase in April
Wholesale inventories increase in April

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+1.6%) recorded the largest increase in dollar terms, its fifth consecutive gain.

Following three consecutive declines, inventories increased 1.6% in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector.

In the building material and supplies subsector, inventories rose 0.5%, a 14th consecutive monthly increase.

The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.32 in March to 1.30 in April. 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 data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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. For more information, see Sales in volume for Wholesale Trade.

The Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey covers all industries within the wholesale sector as defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), with the exception of oilseed and grain merchant wholesalers (NAICS 41112), petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers (NAICS 412) and business-to-business electronic markets, and agents and brokers (NAICS 419).


The April 2015 issue of Wholesale Trade (Catalogue number63-008-X) will soon be available.

Wholesale trade data for May will be released on July 20.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Elspeth Hazell (613-951-8090;, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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