Wholesale trade, October 2019
Wholesale sales declined 1.1% to $64.2 billion in October, the second decrease in five months. Four of the seven subsectors reported lower sales, accounting for 66% of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector contributed the most to the decrease.
In volume terms, wholesale sales declined 1.1%.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector leads the decline in October
Following a 4.5% increase in September, the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the decline in October as sales dropped 3.0% to $13.4 billion. On a year-to-date basis, sales in this subsector were 4.7% higher in the first 10 months compared with the same period in 2018. While all four industries within this subsector recorded lower sales in October, the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry (-4.3% to $4.2 billion) and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-2.3% to $4.4 billion) contributed the most to the decrease. These decreases coincided with declines in imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts. More precisely, Statistics Canada's Canadian International Merchandise Trade data showed that imports of computers and computer peripheral equipment (-1.0%) and logging, construction, mining and oil and gas field machinery and equipment (-4.6%) were down in October. Manufacturing sales of machinery declined 1.7%.
The second-largest decline in sales was in the miscellaneous subsector (-3.4% to $8.1 billion) primarily as a result of lower sales in the agricultural supplies industry (-8.2% to $2.2 billion). This was the second consecutive decline for both the subsector and the industry. Lower sales in the agricultural supplies industry coincided with unfavourable weather conditions as well as weak national and international demand, leading to lower sales of crop nutrients including potash. The Canadian International Merchandise Trade data showed that exports of potash were down in both September (-27.3%) and October (-23.2%).
Lower sales were also observed in the building material and supplies (-0.4% to $9.0 billion) and the food, beverage and tobacco (-0.2% to $12.1 billion) subsectors.
Sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector remained flat as higher sales in the motor vehicle and the used motor vehicle parts and accessories industries were almost entirely offset by lower sales in the new motor vehicle parts and accessories industry.
Sales increased in the farm product (+3.1%) and in the personal and household goods (+0.2%) subsectors.
Sales decline in eight provinces
Sales declined in eight provinces in October, accounting for 45% of total wholesale sales; however, most of the decreases were concentrated in Quebec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Following a 2.3% increase in September, sales in Quebec declined 2.1% to $11.9 billion. Despite the decrease, year-to-date sales in Quebec were 5.3% higher than those in the first 10 months of 2018. Sales were down in four subsectors, including the machinery, equipment and supplies (-9.2% to $1.8 billion) and the personal and household goods (-2.7% to $2.7 billion) subsectors. Both of these subsectors recorded an increase in sales in September.
Sales in British Columbia declined 3.8% to $6.3 billion. Sales were down in all subsectors except for the farm product subsector. Declines were led by the personal and household goods (-9.3% to $659 million) and the food, beverage and tobacco (-3.4% to $1.5 billion) subsectors.
Sales in Saskatchewan fell 7.5% to $2.2 billion in October, preceded by two consecutive monthly increases. The miscellaneous subsector (-8.8% to $896 million) recorded the largest decrease, the second consecutive monthly decline.
Sales edged up 0.3% to $33.4 billion in Ontario. Higher sales in five subsectors—including the personal and household goods subsector—were partially offset by lower sales in the miscellaneous and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsectors.
Inventories continue to decline
Wholesale inventories decreased 0.5% to $91.6 billion in October, the third consecutive monthly decline. These three declines came after 11 consecutive monthly increases in inventories. From September 2018 to October 2019 inventories rose 6.3%.
Inventories were down in four of seven subsectors in October, representing 76% of total wholesale inventories.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector contributed the most to the decline as inventories in this subsector dropped 2.0% to $26.8 billion, followed by the building material and supplies subsector (-1.2% to $15.0 billion). This was the first decline for the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector since January 2019, whereas inventories declined for the fifth consecutive month in the building material and supplies subsector.
Partially offsetting the decrease were higher inventories in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector, up 2.1% to $13.3 billion after declining for two consecutive months.
The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.42 in September to 1.43 in October. 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 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 (2012) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2012 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 data tables
Real-time data tables 20-10-0019-01, 20-10-0020-01 and 20-10-0005-01 will be updated on December 30, 2019.
Wholesale trade data for November 2019 will be released on January 22, 2020.
The product "Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey: Interactive Tool" (71-607-X) is now available online. This product is based on the data published in the tables of the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey: Tables 20-10-0074-01, 20-10-0076-01 and 20-10-0003-01.
For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).
For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Farzana Choudhury (613-218-0349; email@example.com), Mining, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.