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Wholesale trade, May 2013

Released: 2013-07-18

Wholesale sales rose 2.3% to $50.3 billion in May, the largest rate of growth since the beginning of 2011. The increase was largely due to higher sales in the agricultural supplies industry and the food industry.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 2.4%.

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

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

Sales higher in all subsectors

Sales increased in all subsectors in May. The miscellaneous subsector and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector accounted for more than 70% of the growth.

Sales in the miscellaneous subsector (+6.7%) were led by a 19.6% increase in the agricultural supplies industry, which recorded its six consecutive gain. The May advance in sales coincided with a higher than usual increase in fertilizer sales by manufacturers.

The food, beverage and tobacco subsector was up 3.9% as a result of higher sales in the food industry (+4.2%), which accounts for nearly 90% of the subsector's sales. The increase followed a year of relatively flat sales.

Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector rose 1.4%, largely because of an increase in the new motor vehicle parts and accessories industry (+2.9%), which recorded its first advance in three months. The motor vehicle industry posted a 0.9% gain.

Sales up in most provinces

In May, nine provinces posted advances in wholesale sales.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in most provinces in May - Description and data table
Wholesale sales up in most provinces in May

Chart 2: Wholesale sales up in most provinces in May - Description and data table

Wholesalers in Ontario contributed the most to the national increase, followed by wholesalers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Ontario registered a 2.7% rise in wholesale sales. There were increases in several subsectors, particularly in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the miscellaneous subsector.

Sales rose 9.2% in Manitoba, mainly as a result of higher sales in the agricultural supplies industry, which accounts for almost a quarter of the province's wholesale sales.

Saskatchewan posted a 5.0% gain, its fifth increase in six months.

The only decline occurred in Prince Edward Island, where sales were down 2.8%.

Inventory levels steady in May

Inventories were unchanged at $61.8 billion in May, after rising 0.5% in April.

Declines, mainly in the miscellaneous subsector (-2.1%) and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (-1.5%), were offset by 1.7% increases in the personal and household goods subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector.

The inventory-to-sales ratio changed from 1.26 in April to 1.23 in May.

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.

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

Wholesale trade data for June will be released on August 20.

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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