Wholesale trade, August 2016
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Wholesale sales advanced 0.8% to $56.8 billion in August, a fifth consecutive gain. Five of the seven subsectors, representing 80% of total wholesale sales, reported increases. The miscellaneous subsector and machinery, equipment and supplies subsector contributed the most to the rise.
In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.8%.
Gain mostly attributable to miscellaneous subsector, and machinery, equipment and supplies subsector
Although sales rose in five subsectors, gains were mainly concentrated in the miscellaneous subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
In dollar terms, the miscellaneous subsector recorded the largest increase, up 3.9% to $7.2 billion, mostly on the strength of higher sales in the agricultural supplies industry. Sales in this industry grew 11.8% to $2.2 billion in August, the third increase in five months. The gain in August reflected higher exports of fertilizer, pesticide and other chemical products.
Wholesalers in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector posted the second largest increase, with sales up 1.3% to $11.4 billion, the highest level since January 2016. This was the subsector's fourth consecutive monthly advance. The gain in August was largely attributable to the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry, where sales rose 15.2% to $1.5 billion, following an 8.3% decline in July. Canadian wholesalers in this industry import most of the machinery and equipment they sell. Imports of agricultural, lawn and garden machinery and equipment were also up in August.
After a decline in July, sales in the personal and household goods subsector (+0.3%) and building material and supplies subsector (+0.2%) edged up in August.
Sales also edged up in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+0.1%), following a 1.7% increase in July. This was the fifth consecutive monthly gain for this subsector.
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector and farm product subsector recorded the only declines in August. Following increases in July, sales fell 0.2% to $10.9 billion in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, and decreased 2.0% to $648 million in the farm product subsector.
Sales up in eight provinces
In August, sales increased in eight provinces, accounting for 81% of total wholesale sales. Ontario and Alberta contributed the most to the gain.
Sales in Ontario rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 0.4% to $29.1 billion in August. Gains in four subsectors, led by the miscellaneous subsector and building material and supplies subsector, offset declines in the other subsectors.
Alberta recorded the second largest increase in dollar terms, with sales up 2.1% to $6.2 billion, partially offsetting the 2.8% decrease in July. The advance was led by higher sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
In British Columbia, sales increased 1.7% to $5.6 billion, their highest level on record, primarily on higher sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector and miscellaneous subsector. This was the province's fourth gain in five months.
Sales in Saskatchewan rose 4.4% to $2.1 billion in August, mostly as a result of gains in the miscellaneous subsector and machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
In Manitoba, sales increased 1.7% to $1.4 billion, on higher sales in the miscellaneous subsector. This was the province's first gain in three months.
In the Atlantic provinces, sales rose in Nova Scotia (+9.1%), Prince Edward Island (+7.7%) and New Brunswick (+1.8%), led by higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector.
Quebec was one of two provinces to record a decrease in August. Sales fell 1.0% to $10.4 billion, largely as a result of declines in the motor vehicle and parts subsector and building material and supplies subsector.
Sales in Newfoundland and Labrador fell 5.3% to $392 million. While sales edged down in most subsectors, the miscellaneous subsector mainly contributed to the decrease.
Wholesale inventories rose 0.8% to $72.1 billion in August, the first increase in 2016. Gains were recorded in all subsectors, except the farm product subsector.
Inventories in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+1.1%) recorded the largest increase in dollar terms, followed by those in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.2%). In the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, this was the first gain in 10 months. In the motor vehicle and parts subsector, the rise in August was the third consecutive monthly advance, bringing inventories to their highest level on record.
Inventories also increased in the miscellaneous subsector (+0.8%), the building material and supplies subsector (+0.6%), the personal and household goods subsector (+0.1%) and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+0.6%).
The only subsector to record lower inventories was the farm product subsector (-4.8%).
The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.27 in August. This 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 expressed in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For 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 trade 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).
For information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
Real-time CANSIM tables
Wholesale trade data for September will be released on November 21.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).
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