Logo StatCan COVID-19: Data to Insights for a Better Canada COVID-19 Impact Analysis and 2020 Outlook: Wholesale Services Price Index

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The Wholesale Services Price Index (WSPI) represents the change in the price of wholesale services, which is defined as the margin price, the difference between the purchase price and the selling price of the product being priced.

  • Historically, the growth of wholesale margins slowed during past recessions but remained positive.
  • Margins post-2009 recession were lower than before the recession (cumulative decline of 1.8%).

Wholesale Trade accounts for around 5-6% of GDP (5.3% in 2018). Note

Chart 1 Wholesale margin trends during past recessions

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1 Index and Year-over-year change, calculated using (2013=100) and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Index Year-over-year change
(2013=100) percent
2008
Quarter 1 94.3 4.5
Quarter 2 97.3 4.3
Quarter 3 101.2 7.9
Quarter 4 101.9 9.6
2009
Quarter 1 99.2 5.2
Quarter 2 99.8 2.6
Quarter 3 99.4 -1.8
Quarter 4 99.3 -2.6
2010
Quarter 1 99.1 -0.1
Quarter 2 99.9 0.1
Quarter 3 99.9 0.5
Quarter 4 99.7 0.4
2011
Quarter 1 99.3 0.2
Quarter 2 99.7 -0.2
Quarter 3 100.2 0.3
Quarter 4 99.3 -0.4
2012
Quarter 1 100.4 1.1
Quarter 2 100.9 1.2
Quarter 3 101.1 0.9
Quarter 4 100.8 1.5
2013
Quarter 1 99.7 -0.7
Quarter 2 99.3 -1.6
Quarter 3 99.9 -1.2
Quarter 4 101.0 0.2
2014
Quarter 1 102.2 2.5
Quarter 2 103.5 4.2
Quarter 3 103.0 3.1
Quarter 4 104.5 3.5
2015
Quarter 1 104.1 1.9
Quarter 2 105.0 1.4
Quarter 3 105.0 1.9
Quarter 4 106.6 2.0
2016
Quarter 1 108.4 4.1
Quarter 2 108.5 3.3
Quarter 3 108.5 3.3
Quarter 4 109.1 2.3
2017
Quarter 1 111.6 3.0
Quarter 2 113.5 4.6
Quarter 3 112.5 3.7
Quarter 4 112.6 3.2
2018
Quarter 1 113.9 2.1
Quarter 2 114.2 0.6
Quarter 3 114.5 1.8
Quarter 4 113.1 0.4
2019
Quarter 1 112.8 -1.0
Quarter 2 113.6 -0.5
Quarter 3 111.4 -2.7
Quarter 4 109.4 -3.3

Recession response varies vastly between subsectors

Margins for petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers contracted sharply in 2008-2009 but were resilient in 2015, even though the purchase and selling prices plummeted in both periods (Chart 2).

Margins for food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers remained strong during both recessions (Chart 3).

Chart 2 Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers: margin and price trends during past recessions

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 WSPI, Index, WSPI, Year-over-year change and IPPI, Petroleum refineries, Year-over-year change, calculated using (2013=100) and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
WSPI, Index WSPI, Year-over-year change IPPI, Petroleum refineries, Year-over-year change
(2013=100) percent
2008
Quarter 1 96.5 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 27.5
Quarter 2 113.0 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 40.1
Quarter 3 158.1 57.6 46.0
Quarter 4 152.5 62.6 -8.1
2009
Quarter 1 101.5 5.2 -31.7
Quarter 2 104.1 -7.9 -39.0
Quarter 3 89.2 -43.6 -36.6
Quarter 4 91.1 -40.3 -0.4
2010
Quarter 1 95.5 -5.9 27.0
Quarter 2 103.4 -0.7 14.4
Quarter 3 104.9 17.6 5.0
Quarter 4 96.6 6.0 10.8
2011
Quarter 1 90.8 -4.9 20.6
Quarter 2 101.8 -1.5 32.5
Quarter 3 104.8 -0.1 33.9
Quarter 4 90.9 -5.9 22.8
2012
Quarter 1 91.2 0.4 12.9
Quarter 2 92.7 -8.9 2.1
Quarter 3 96.5 -7.9 2.7
Quarter 4 101.1 11.2 1.1
2013
Quarter 1 98.2 7.7 1.2
Quarter 2 94.5 1.9 -0.2
Quarter 3 97.9 1.5 3.8
Quarter 4 109.4 8.2 3.5
2014
Quarter 1 109.8 11.8 5.3
Quarter 2 117.2 24.0 7.6
Quarter 3 113.0 15.4 0.6
Quarter 4 122.9 12.3 -10.0
2015
Quarter 1 120.5 9.7 -27.4
Quarter 2 124.2 6.0 -23.5
Quarter 3 116.9 3.5 -23.0
Quarter 4 124.6 1.4 -19.8
2016
Quarter 1 124.0 2.9 -18.0
Quarter 2 119.0 -4.2 -13.1
Quarter 3 94.9 -18.8 -9.9
Quarter 4 108.8 -12.7 3.8
2017
Quarter 1 142.8 15.2 25.6
Quarter 2 165.7 39.2 10.3
Quarter 3 143.1 50.8 9.1
Quarter 4 143.5 31.9 13.2
2018
Quarter 1 143.6 0.6 12.1
Quarter 2 146.7 -11.5 23.0
Quarter 3 156.6 9.4 24.8
Quarter 4 122.0 -15.0 5.5
2019
Quarter 1 130.7 -9.0 -5.1
Quarter 2 161.0 9.7 -4.4
Quarter 3 133.4 -14.8 -10.5
Quarter 4 115.6 -5.2 -3.2

Chart 3 Food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers: margin trends during past recessions

Data table for Chart 3 
>94.3 >5.6 >94.7 >2.0 >97.3 >3.4 >97.5 >3.0
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3 Index and Year-over-year change, calculated using (2013=100) and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Index Year-over-year change
(2013=100) percent
2008
Quarter 1 87.0 0.6
Quarter 2 88.3 -0.2
Quarter 3 85.9 -0.5
Quarter 4 87.8 3.8
2009
Quarter 1 89.3 2.6
Quarter 2 92.8 5.1
Quarter 3 94.1 9.5
Quarter 4 94.7 7.9
2010
Quarter 1
Quarter 2
Quarter 3
Quarter 4
2011
Quarter 1 99.1 5.1
Quarter 2 96.0 1.4
Quarter 3 96.5 -0.8
Quarter 4 96.0 -1.5

2020 WSPI Margins Outlook

Wholesale margins are expected to decline more in 2020 than in 2009 as COVID-19 containment measures are predicted to lead to significant reductions in economic activity, supply chain disruptions and increased costs for manufacturers and processors.

Most of the impact will be felt in Q2 2020. Subsector trends may vary significantly depending on different containment measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chart 4 Projected wholesale margin trends, 2020

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4 Index (collected data), Projected Index, 2009 recession-based, Projected Index, adjusted, Quarter-over-quarter change (adjusted) and Year-over-year change (adjusted), calculated using (2013=100) and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Index (collected data) Projected Index, 2009 recession-based Projected Index, adjusted Quarter-over-quarter change (adjusted) Year-over-year change (adjusted)
(2013=100) percent
2018
Quarter 1 113.9 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 1.2 2.1
Quarter 2 114.2 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 0.3 0.6
Quarter 3 114.5 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 0.3 1.8
Quarter 4 113.1 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period -1.2 0.4
2019
Quarter 1 112.8 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period -0.3 -1.0
Quarter 2 113.6 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 0.7 -0.5
Quarter 3 111.4 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period -1.9 -2.7
Quarter 4 109.4 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period -1.8 -3.3
2020
Quarter 1 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 108.9 106.3 -2.8 -5.8
Quarter 2 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 107.9 100.4 -5.6 -11.7

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Wholesale Trade - Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 2020 Projection results

Quarter 1 2020

  • Quarter-over-quarter (%): ↓[-0.5 , -2.8]
  • Year-over-year (%): ↓[-3.5 , -5.8]

Quarter 2 2020

  • Quarter-over-quarter (%): ↓[-0.9 , -5.6]
  • Year-over-year (%): ↓[-5.0 , -11.7]

Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers

  • Crude prices expected to remain low, due to reduced world demand.
  • Petroleum margins are very volatile but can be expected to decline overall, as production cost is above selling prices.

Food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers

  • Prices are expected to continue rising into 2020.
  • Margins expected to rise overall, bringing year-over-year movements back into positive territory, after declines in 2018 and 2019.

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Methodology

The 2009 economic recession serves as the benchmark of the impact analysis. The response pattern of WSPI to the 2009 recession were used to project Q1 and Q2 2020 estimates. Subject-matter analysts also applied adjustments taking into account the 2020 GDP forecast and economic conditions under COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact information

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; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).

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