Wholesale trade, January 2020
Wholesale sales increased for a second consecutive month, up 1.8% to $65.2 billion in January. While all subsectors reported higher sales, gains were concentrated in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories and the miscellaneous subsectors.
In volume terms, sales grew 1.7%.
Motor vehicle and agricultural supplies industries drive higher sales in January
Sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts subsector grew 3.0% to $11.3 billion in January. The bulk of this growth (about 80%) is attributable to the motor vehicle industry, up 3.0% to $9.1 billion. This was a second consecutive increase for both the subsector and the industry.
Sales in the agricultural supplies industry increased 10.5% to $2.4 billion while inventories declined 4.5% in January. This was the primary contributor to higher sales in the miscellaneous subsector, up 3.1% to $8.4 billion. In January, Canadian exports of potash to the United States increased 6.4%, according to Canadian International Merchandise Trade data, while exports of this product to China declined 65.7% on an unadjusted basis.
Higher sales in seven provinces, led by Ontario
Higher sales were recorded in seven provinces, together representing 87% of total wholesale sales.
Sales in Ontario rose 2.2% to $34.1 billion in January, a third increase in four months. While higher sales were recorded in each subsector, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector, the largest in the province, contributed the most (+3.9% to $8.0 billion). The increase in the subsector followed a slower fourth quarter in 2019, where sales declined 1.9% from the previous quarter, partly due to motor vehicle manufacturing strikes, rail transit impacts and motor vehicle manufacturing plant closures.
The agricultural supplies industry in the miscellaneous subsector (+26.6% to $987 million) contributed the most to the higher sales in Saskatchewan as the province posted an increase of 6.4% to $2.2 billion in January. This partially offset the lower sales in the fourth quarter for the subsector in this province.
Inventories edge up
Wholesale inventories edged up 0.1% to $92.1 billion in January.
For the month, higher inventories in five subsectors were almost entirely offset by lower inventories in the miscellaneous (-2.6% to $11.5 billion) and the machinery, equipment and supplies (-0.5% to $26.7 billion) subsectors.
The highest inventories were recorded in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.4% to $16.4 billion) and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector (+1.3% to $13.6 billion).
The inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.44 in December to 1.41 in January, the lowest ratio since April 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 soon.
Wholesale trade data for February will be released on April 20.
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.
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