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Wholesale trade, March 2013

Released: 2013-05-17

Wholesale sales advanced by 0.3% in March to $49.1 billion. The increase was mainly due to higher sales in the motor vehicle industry. Since May 2012, wholesale sales have been relatively flat.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.1% in March.

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

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

Gain led by the motor vehicle industry

In March, four of the seven subsectors reported gains, accounting for about two-thirds of wholesale sales. Excluding the motor vehicle and parts subsector, wholesale sales were unchanged.

Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector rose 2.0% to $8.5 billion in March, its second consecutive increase. The advance in March largely reflected higher sales in the motor vehicle industry (+3.9%), which represents about three-quarters of this subsector.

In the miscellaneous subsector, sales rose by 1.4%. The increase was largely driven by a 7.8% gain in the agricultural supplies industry, the fifth increase in six months.

Sales in the building materials and supplies subsector rose by 0.6%. All three industries in this subsector posted higher sales, with the majority of the increase coming from the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry.

The largest decline in dollar terms was in the personal and household goods subsector (-0.9%), mainly as a result of a 2.4% decrease in the pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry.

Ontario and Saskatchewan post the largest increases

Wholesalers in three provinces reported increases in sales for March.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in three provinces in March - Description and data table
Wholesale sales up in three provinces in March

Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in three provinces in March - Description and data table

Ontario posted a 1.4% increase, offsetting February's decline. Wholesalers in the province benefited mainly from higher sales in the motor vehicle industry.

The 6.6% increase in Saskatchewan was primarily due to the agricultural supplies industry, which represented over one-third of the province's sales.

In British Columbia, sales increased by 0.5%.

These gains were partially offset by the 3.5% decline in Alberta, the province's first decrease in three months. The decline was largely due to weakness in the building material and supplies subsector within the province.

The declines in the remaining provinces largely reflect the weakness of sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the personal and household goods subsector.

Slight increase in inventories

Wholesale inventories rose 0.1% in March to $61.8 billion. Inventories were up in two of the seven subsectors.

The increases were in the inventories of the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.1%) and the building materials and supplies subsector (+0.5%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.26 in March.

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 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.

Data in volume terms have been revised back to January 2010.

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

Wholesale trade data for April will be released on June 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 Rhonda Tsang (613-951-0418); rhonda.tsang@statcan.gc.ca), Distributive Trades Division.

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