Wholesale trade, May 2022
Wholesale sales rise in May
Wholesale sales rose 1.6% in May to $81.1 billion, the eighth increase in the past ten months. Sales increased in five of the seven wholesale trade subsectors, representing 70% of wholesale sales. The growth was predominantly due to higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
Constant dollar sales rose 1.1% in May.
Sales of food, beverage and tobacco lead May increase
Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector increased 7.8% to $14.7 billion in May, the fourth increase in the last five months. This is the highest level recorded for the subsector. All four component industries posted gains for the month, but the food industry led the gains, increasing 8.7% to $13.2 billion. The growth was driven by volumes as constant dollar sales in the subsector rose 8.4% in May.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector posted the second highest gains for May as sales rose 3.2% to $17.0 billion. This was the eighth month-over-month increase in the past nine months. Higher sales in two of the four industries produced the gains for the month. The farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry increased 17.2% to $2.3 billion, and the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry was up 6.5% to $5.4 billion.
Sales of building material and supplies continued to fall for a second consecutive month in May, down 4.3% to $13.2 billion—the third decline in 2022. An 8.2% drop in sales of the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry accounted for nearly all of the decrease in the subsector. Compared with May 2021, sales in this industry were 15.3% lower, reflecting a drop in the price of lumber and other sawmill products.
Ontario leads provincial gains
Higher sales were reported in seven provinces and two territories in May, accounting for 89% of the national value, with Ontario gaining the most.
In Ontario, sales grew 1.8% to $40.9 billion in May, with higher sales in four of seven subsectors. Higher sales were led by the food, beverage, and tobacco subsector, up 8.8% to $6.7 billion, predominantly due to gains in the food industry. Also contributing to the gains in Ontario was the miscellaneous subsector, up 5.3%, and the 1.5% increase in the machinery equipment and supplies subsector. Sales of building material and supplies fell for the second consecutive month, and were down 4.3% in May to $5.2 billion on falling lumber prices.
Sales in Quebec increased by 1.5% to $15.0 billion, with four of seven subsectors showing an increase in sales. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector also led the gains in Quebec, with an increase of 13.2% to $3.3 billion. Sales in all component industries rose, with the majority of the gains seen in the food industry, up 13.8%.
Sales in Saskatchewan rose by 4.0% to $3.6 billion, with higher sales in five of seven subsectors. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the gains with a 19.0% increase to $0.9 billion. Most of the gains in this subsector were attributable to the agriculture sector, with the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry up 25.7%, and the farm products subsector up 19.8%.
Inventories rise in May
Wholesale inventories increased 2.5% to $115.2 billion in May, the fourth consecutive month of growth, and the second consecutive month in which all subsectors recorded higher inventories. The largest contributor to the inventory growth was the miscellaneous subsector, followed by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, and the building material and supplies subsector.
The miscellaneous subsector saw inventories increase for the fourth consecutive month in May, up 4.2% to $17.0 billion. Agricultural supplies merchant wholesalers were the highest contributing industry, up 9.0% to $7.9 billion, accounting for 81% of the increase. The only industry within the miscellaneous subsector to have lower inventories was the recyclable material industry, which decreased 7.7%.
Inventories of machinery, equipment and supplies rose 2.0% to $31.1 billion. Accounting for half of this increase was the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry, which rose 5.1% to $6.3 billion. The increase coincided with an 8.3% increase in imports of agriculture, lawn and garden machinery in May.
Inventories of the building material and supplies subsector increased 2.5% in May to $22.0 billion. May was the second consecutive month in which all industries within the subsector reported higher inventories. The most significant contributor was the metal service centres industry, which saw inventories increase 6.0%, representing 65% of the subsector's growth.
The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.41 in April to 1.42 in May. This ratio is a measure of the time (in months) required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current levels.
Note to readers
All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars, unless otherwise noted.
Seasonally adjusted data are data that have been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences to allow for more meaningful comparisons of economic conditions from period to period. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Section 2: Issues related to analysis and interpretation.
Trend-cycle estimates are included in selected charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. These data represent a smoothed version of the Seasonally adjusted time series (see Section 1: Concepts and definitions) and provide information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
Both seasonally adjusted data and trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially for reference months near the end of the series or during periods of economic disruptions.
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 "Deflation of wholesale sales".
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).
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 June 2022 will be released on August 15, 2022.
The product "Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey: Interactive Tool" (71-607-X) is available online. This product is based on the data published in the tables of the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey: 20-10-0074-01, 20-10-0076-01 and 20-10-0003-01.
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