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Wholesale trade, January 2013

Released: 2013-03-19

Wholesale sales rose by 0.3% in January to $49.0 billion. The increase was mainly a result of higher sales in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.5% in January.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Wholesale sales increase in January - Description and data table
Wholesale sales increase in January

Chart 1: Wholesale sales increase in January - Description and data table

Increase led by the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry

In January, four of the seven subsectors, accounting for about two-thirds of wholesale sales, reported gains.

Sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector rose 3.2%, almost offsetting the decline observed in December. January's advance reflects an 8.0% increase in the sales of the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry, which posted its largest gain since April 2008. For the third consecutive month, this industry was the main contributor to sales movement at the national level. This coincided with the release of new products at the end of 2012.

The second-largest increase was in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.0%). The key contributors to January's advance were the toiletries, cosmetics and sundries industry and the textiles, clothing and footwear industry.

Sales were up 0.7% in the food, beverages and tobacco subsector, its first monthly increase in three months. All three component industries of this subsector reported gains.

These increases were partly offset by a 2.8% decline in the motor vehicle and parts subsector, its fifth decrease since July 2012. January's decline in sales reflected a 3.4% decrease in the motor vehicle industry.

Sales growth concentrated in Quebec

Sales were up in nine provinces in January.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in nine provinces in January - Description and data table
Wholesale sales up in nine provinces in January

Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in nine provinces in January - Description and data table

Most of the sales growth in dollars was concentrated in Quebec, where sales rose 2.2%, the first advance in three months. Wholesalers in the province posted higher sales in the personal and household goods subsector and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector.

In Western Canada, Saskatchewan (+1.2%) recorded the largest increase, as a result of higher sales in the agricultural supplies industry, which accounts for about 35% of wholesale sales in the province.

The four Atlantic provinces posted gains, with Newfoundland and Labrador (+4.3%) registering the largest growth in sales.

Ontario was the lone province that posted a decrease in sales. Wholesale sales were down 0.5% in January, the fifth decrease since July 2012. The declines were largely a result of lower sales in the motor vehicle industry.

Increase in inventories

Wholesale inventories rose 1.2% in January to $61.5 billion. Inventories were up in 18 of the 25 industries.

The largest increases in dollar terms were in the inventories of the personal goods industry (+10.4%) and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+1.5%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 1.25 in January.

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.

The January 2013 issue of Wholesale Trade (Catalogue number63-008-X) will soon be available.

Wholesale trade data for February will be released on April 19.

Contact information

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.

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