Wholesale trade, September 2012

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Wholesale sales fell 1.4% to $48.8 billion in September, the third decline in four months. Sales were lower in every subsector.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were down 1.3% in September.

Chart 1 
Wholesale sales decrease in September
Chart 1: Wholesale sales decrease in September

Chart description: Wholesale sales decrease in September

CSV version of the chart

Sales lower in all subsectors

The motor vehicle and parts subsector was by far the largest contributor in dollar terms to September's decline, followed by the personal and household goods subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. These three subsectors accounted for more than 85% of the decrease.

Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector were down for a third straight month, posting a 4.0% decline. This trend coincides with a decrease in imports of motor vehicles and parts during the same period.

The second largest decline was observed in the personal and household goods subsector. Sales fell 2.0%, largely as a result of a 3.3% decrease in the pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector decreased 1.0%, its second decline in three months. All four industries in this subsector reported lower sales in September.

Lower sales in most provinces

Sales declined in nine provinces in September.

Chart 2 
Wholesale sales down in most provinces in September
Chart 2: Wholesale sales down in most provinces in September

Chart description: Wholesale sales down in most provinces in September

CSV version of the chart

The decrease was concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Wholesale sales in these two provinces have been on a downward trend since mid-2012. These declines have almost entirely offset the increases seen at the beginning of the year in Ontario and half of the gains observed in Quebec.

Sales in Ontario fell 1.6% in September. This result was in part due to lower sales in the motor vehicle industry, which accounts for nearly 20% of the province's total wholesale sales.

In Quebec, sales were down 1.7% after rising slightly in August.

In Saskatchewan, sales decreased 3.6%, the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

Manitoba was the only province to post an increase. Sales were up 2.7% in September, the second straight advance.

Inventory levels down

Inventories were down 0.4% to $61.4 billion in September, the first decrease in 10 months.

The decline was primarily due to lower inventories in the motor vehicle industry (-7.2%), overshadowing the higher inventories reported by 15 of 25 industries in September.

The slight decline in inventories compared with the decrease in sales translated into an increase in the inventory-to-sales ratio from 1.25 in August to 1.26 in September.

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 the data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

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.

Data for total wholesale sales in volume, including the chain Fisher volume index, have been revised from January 2004 onward to reflect methodological enhancements. In addition, the reference year has changed from 2002 to 2007 for these volume data. For more information, see Sales in volume for Wholesale Trade.

The former CANSIM table 081-0013 has been replaced by CANSIM table 081-0015. Revised data dating back to January 2004 are now available in this new CANSIM table.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table081-0011, CANSIM table081-0012 and CANSIM table081-0015.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2401.

The September 2012 issue of Wholesale Trade (Catalogue number63-008-X, free) will soon be available.

Wholesale trade data for October will be released on December 19.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Karim El hassani (613-951-0608; karim.elhassani@statcan.gc.ca), Distributive Trades Division.