Wholesale trade, November 2012

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Wholesale sales rose 0.7% in November to $49.6 billion. The increase was largely a result of higher sales in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.5%.

Chart 1 
Wholesale sales increase in November
Chart 1: Wholesale sales increase in November

Chart description: Wholesale sales increase in November

CSV version of chart 1

Computer and communications equipment and supplies post the largest gain

In November, five of the seven subsectors, accounting for about two-thirds of wholesale sales, reported increases.

The largest advance in dollar terms was in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, which grew by 1.8%. This result was primarily because of higher sales in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry, which rose 6.3%. This coincided with a sharp gain in imports of communications and audio and video equipment, which were 14.2% higher in November than in October, according to international merchandise trade data.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded its second consecutive increase. Sales were up 1.5% as a result of an advance in the motor vehicle industry (+1.7%), which was responsible for about 90% of the subsector's growth.

Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased by 0.7% in November, on the strength of higher sales in the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry.

Declines were observed in the personal and household goods subsector (-0.6%) and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (-0.4%).

Sales growth concentrated almost entirely in Ontario

In November, most of the national increase came from Ontario, where wholesalers reported the largest gain since July 2011. Wholesale sales were up in three provinces in November: Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

Chart 2 
Wholesale sales up in three provinces in November
Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in three provinces in November

Chart description: Wholesale sales up in three provinces in November

CSV version of chart 2

Ontario posted a 2.1% increase in sales, its first advance in three months. Wholesalers in the province benefited from higher sales in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry and the motor vehicle industry.

In Manitoba, sales grew 4.9% in November, after falling 1.5% in October. It was the province's third increase in four months.

Sales were up 0.8% in Alberta, its second straight gain. Several industries contributed to the November result, notably the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry.

Quebec (-1.4%) posted the largest decline in dollar terms in November.

Inventories down

Wholesalers' inventories fell 0.4% in November to $61.2 billion, the second decrease in three months. Inventories were down in 16 of the 25 industries.

The largest inventory declines in dollar terms were in the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-1.9%) and the motor vehicle industry (-2.4%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio fell from 1.25 in October to 1.24 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 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. For more information, see Sales in Volume for Wholesale Trade.

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

Wholesale trade data for December will be released on February 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.