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Wholesale trade, October 2013

Released: 2013-12-18

Following two months of weak growth, wholesale sales increased 1.4% to $50.5 billion in October. Higher sales were reported in five of seven subsectors, representing over 70% of wholesale sales.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 1.2%.

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

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

Higher sales in most subsectors

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the growth in wholesale sales in October, rising 5.6% to $11.2 billion. This was the largest monthly growth for the subsector since September 2003. Gains were recorded in all of the subsector's industries, led by increases in the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+8.6%) and the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry (+6.6%).

The second largest increase in dollar terms occurred in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.2%). Gains in the home entertainment equipment and household appliance industry (+9.8%) and the pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry (+1.9%) accounted for most of the growth.

Sales rose in the farm product subsector (+12.0%), its sixth consecutive monthly increase. This was the highest monthly growth rate recorded to date.

The building material and supplies subsector (+1.0%) posted a fourth consecutive monthly gain.

Wholesale sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 0.4% in October. This subsector has recorded three increases in the past four months, but has yet to return to its May 2013 peak.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector decreased 1.4% in October following three consecutive monthly gains. Lower sales in the motor vehicle industry (-2.6%) accounted for the decline.

Sales up in most provinces

In October, higher sales were recorded in eight provinces, which together accounted for over 95% of wholesale sales in Canada. Alberta, Quebec and Ontario were responsible for most of the gain.

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

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

Sales in Alberta rose 3.3% after edging down for two consecutive months. Gains in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector contributed to the increase.

The October increase in Quebec (+1.9%) more than offset the decline in September.

Wholesale sales rose in Ontario (+0.6%) for the fourth consecutive month.

Saskatchewan's wholesale sales grew 4.5% in October. The gain was widespread across subsectors.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, wholesale sales rose 10.3%, primarily a result of increases in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.

Manitoba (-1.0%) recorded the largest decline among the provinces. Wholesale sales have been relatively flat in this province since June 2013.

New Brunswick (-0.5%) was the only other province to record a sales decrease in October. It was the fourth consecutive decline for this province.

Inventory levels edge down in October

Inventories edged down 0.2% to $61.8 billion in October. Three of seven subsectors recorded declines, accounting for almost 60% of wholesale inventories.

The largest decrease in dollar terms was in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (-1.3%), the third decline in four months.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector (-1.1%) recorded a drop in inventories for a second consecutive month.

The largest increase in dollar terms occurred in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+2.4%) and the miscellaneous subsector (+1.6%). This was the second consecutive monthly gain for both subsectors.

The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.24 in September to 1.22 in October. This was the lowest ratio since June 2012.

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

Wholesale trade data for November will be released on January 21, 2014.

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 Elspeth Hazell (613-951-8090; elspeth.hazell@statcan.gc.ca), Distributive Trades Division.

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