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Wholesale trade, August 2013

Released: 2013-10-21

Wholesale sales rose 0.5% to $49.8 billion in August, the fourth increase in five months. The motor vehicle industry was the largest contributor to the gain in August.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.3%.

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

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

Motor vehicle industry leads growth

In August, five of the seven subsectors reported gains, accounting for about two-thirds of wholesale sales. Excluding the motor vehicle and parts subsector, wholesale sales were down 0.1%.

The largest increase in dollar terms was in the motor vehicle and parts subsector, with sales rising 3.2% to $8.5 billion, its highest level since June 2012. The advance largely reflected higher sales in the motor vehicle industry (+4.5%), which posted its largest month-over-month gain since July 2011.

Sales rose 1.8% in the personal and household goods subsector, with five of the six industries posting gains. The toiletries, cosmetics and sundries industry (+6.2%) as well as the textile, clothing and footwear industry (+3.2%) led the advance.

The largest decline in dollar terms was in the miscellaneous subsector (-4.0%), mainly as a result of a 12.9% decrease in the agricultural supplies industry. This was the third consecutive decline, fueled by the uncertainty of global fertilizer prices.

Sales up in three provinces

Wholesale sales were up in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec in August, while the other seven provinces posted declines.

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

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

Wholesale sales in Ontario were up 1.1% in August, the fifth increase in six months. The gain was mainly a result of higher sales in the motor vehicle industry.

Sales in British Columbia (+2.5%) rose for the seventh time in eight months. The growth can be attributed to higher sales in the food industry.

In Quebec, wholesale sales increased 1.0%, led by higher sales in the food industry as well as the textile, clothing and footwear industry.

Lower sales in the agricultural supplies industry led to a 7.8% drop in Saskatchewan, as well as to the declines in Manitoba and Alberta.

In the Atlantic provinces, lower sales by food wholesalers contributed to the decrease.

Inventory levels down in August

Wholesale inventories were down 0.5% to $61.9 billion in August, with three of the seven subsectors posting declines.

Inventories fell in the building material and supplies subsector (-2.1%), machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (-1.3%), and the miscellaneous subsector (-0.8%).

The largest gains in dollar terms were in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.8%), and the personal and household goods subsector (+0.6%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio edged down to 1.24 in August.

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

Wholesale trade data for September will be released on November 20.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Tamara Webb (613-951-3999); tamara.webb@statcan.gc.ca), Distributive Trades Division.

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