Analysis — November 2015
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Wholesale sales rose for the first time in five months, up 1.8% to $55.9 billion in November. Sales were higher in four of seven subsectors, led by motor vehicle and parts. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales were up 1.2% in November.
In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.6% in November.
Higher sales in four subsectors
Sales were up in four of seven subsectors in November, accounting for 65% of wholesale sales, led by stronger sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector.
The motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded the largest gain in dollar terms in November, with sales rising 4.8% to $10.0 billion. A 6.5% increase in the motor vehicle industry, the first since June 2015, accounted for most of the gain. Exports of motor vehicles and parts and sales by motor vehicle manufacturers were also higher in November.
Sales in the miscellaneous subsector rose 4.1% to $7.5 billion in November, the highest level on record. The largest contributors to the gain were the agricultural supplies industry (+10.9%) and the other miscellaneous industry (+3.1%). Exports of fertilizer, pesticide and other chemical products also rose in November.
Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 2.8% to $7.8 billion, more than offsetting the combined declines of September and October. Gains in all industries contributed to the increase in November. Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials also rose in November.
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector increased 1.6% to $10.8 billion, primarily as a result of gains in the food industry (+1.7%), which accounted for over 90% of sales in this subsector.
Following two months of gains, sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined 1.0% to $11.2 billion.
Sales rise in all provinces
Sales were up in every province in November. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the increase.
Following three consecutive declines, sales in Ontario rose 2.3% to $28.2 billion in November. Gains were widespread across subsectors, led by motor vehicle and parts.
In Quebec, sales increased 1.3% to $10.1 billion, their highest level on record. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector and the miscellaneous subsector led the gains.
Sales in British Columbia rose 1.8% to $5.3 billion, mostly offsetting the declines recorded in September and October, and brought the province to its second highest level on record. The building material and supplies subsector contributed the most to the increase.
In Alberta, sales rose for the first time in five months, up 1.1% to $6.4 billion, on widespread gains across subsectors. Despite the gain in November, year-to-date sales for Alberta were 5.1% lower compared with the same period in 2014.
Saskatchewan recorded a second consecutive increase in November, up 1.5% to $2.4 billion, its highest level in 11 months. The agricultural supplies industry in the miscellaneous subsector led the gain.
Sales in Nova Scotia rose 1.7% to $814 million, their highest level in five months.
Inventory levels decline in November
Wholesale inventories edged down 0.2% to $73.0 billion in November. Inventories were down in three of seven subsectors, together representing 63% of wholesale inventories, with the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector accounting for most of the decrease.
Inventories in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined for the second time in three months, down 1.3% to $21.1 billion. The drop in November brought inventories in this subsector to their lowest level since May 2015.
In November, inventories in the building material and supplies subsector (-0.4%) declined for an eighth consecutive month, while inventories in the personal and household goods subsector (-0.3%) recorded their second decrease in three months.
Following a decline in October, inventories in the miscellaneous subsector rose 0.9%, while inventories in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+0.7%) increased for a sixth consecutive month, reaching their highest level on record.
The inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.33 in October to 1.31 in November. 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 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 (2007) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2007 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 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 more information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
Real-time CANSIM tables
Real-time CANSIM tables 081-8011, 081-8012 and 081-8015 will be updated on January 27. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.
Wholesale trade data for December 2015 will be released on February 18, 2016.
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