Wholesale trade, November 2019
Wholesale sales declined 1.2% to $63.2 billion in November, the third decline in five months. Five of the seven subsectors reported lower sales, accounting for 77% of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector led the decrease.
In volume terms, wholesale sales declined 0.9%.
Decrease in November attributable to lower sales in five of seven subsectors
Sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector decreased 3.3% to $10.7 billion in November. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decline, following a 3.7% increase in July. Within this subsector, an increase in the new motor vehicle parts and accessories industry was offset by strong downward movements in the other two industries. On a year-to-date basis, sales in this subsector were 2.3% higher in the first 11 months compared with the same period in 2018.
The second largest decline in sales was recorded in the miscellaneous subsector (-4.1% to $7.8 billion), primarily as a result of lower sales in the agricultural supplies (-8.5% to $2.0 billion) and the other miscellaneous (-6.9% to $2.4 billion) industries. This was the third consecutive decline for both the subsector as a whole and the agricultural supplies industry.
Lower sales were also observed in the personal and household goods (-1.0% to $9.5 billion) and the building material and supplies (-1.0% to $8.9 billion) subsectors in November.
Sales increased 0.8% to $13.5 billion in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. In November, gains were recorded in all industries, except the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry. The other machinery, equipment and supplies industry contributed the most to the gains, up 3.3% to $3.3 billion, while the computer and communication industry increased 1.1% to $4.3 billion.
The farm product subsector also increased in November (+1.2% to $922 million).
Sales down in six provinces, led by Ontario and Alberta
Wholesale sales were down in six provinces in November, accounting for 88% of total wholesale sales in Canada. Ontario and Alberta contributed the most to the decline.
After increasing 0.4% in October, sales in Ontario declined 1.6% to $32.9 billion in November. Year-to-date sales in Ontario were 2.9% higher than the first 11 months of 2018. Four of the seven subsectors recorded declines in November, led by personal and household goods (-4.1% to $5.4 billion) and motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (-2.7% to $7.5 billion). Sales decreased for the third time in five months for the province.
Wholesale sales in Alberta declined for the fourth time in five months, down 2.4% to $6.6 billion, reaching their second lowest level in 2019. Lower sales were reported in four of seven subsectors, led by motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories, down 11.9% to $628 million in November following a 3.5% gain in October. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined 3.3% to $2.1 billion, its third lowest level in 2019.
In Saskatchewan, sales were down 4.7% to $2.1 billion in November, reaching their lowest level since February 2018, led by the miscellaneous subsector (-15.6% to $747 million).
Following a 3.7% decline in October, sales in British Columbia increased 1.0% to $6.4 billion. The gain in November was led by the building material and supplies subsector (+4.5% to $1.5 billion), the third increase in five months, and the personal and household goods subsector (+8.6% to $729 million).
Sales in Nova Scotia increased 6.7% to $880 million, the second gain in five months, on the strength of higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco (+20.8%) and the machinery, equipment and supplies (+6.0%) subsectors.
Inventories rise in November
Wholesale inventories increased 0.4% to $91.9 billion in November after three consecutive monthly declines. Despite the increase in November, inventories were down 1.8% from their highest level in July 2019.
Inventories were up in four of seven subsectors in November, representing 71% of total wholesale inventories.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.7% to $27.0 billion) contributed the most to the increase, followed by the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector (+1.2% to $13.4 billion). This was the ninth increase of 2019 for the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, whereas inventories in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector increased for the second consecutive month after two monthly declines.
The increase was partially offset by lower inventories in the building material and supplies subsector (-0.9% to $15.0 billion), down for the sixth consecutive month.
The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.43 in October to 1.45 in November, a level last seen in June 2019. 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 February 3, 2020.
Wholesale trade data for December 2019 will be released on February 24, 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 20-10-0003-01, 20-10-0074-01 and 20-10-0076-01.
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 John Burton (613-862-4878; email@example.com), Mining, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.