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Wholesale trade, March 2015

Released: 2015-05-20

Wholesale sales rose 0.8% to $53.9 billion in March after two consecutive monthly declines. Higher sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors, accounting for 66% of total wholesale sales.

In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.0%.

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

Higher sales in five subsectors

Following two consecutive monthly declines, the building material and supplies subsector recorded the largest gain in dollar terms in March, rising 2.8% to $7.6 billion. Gains in the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry (+4.7%) and the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry (+3.0%) accounted for the increase.

The food, beverage and tobacco subsector recorded a fifth consecutive monthly gain in March, increasing 1.2% to $10.7 billion. All industries in this subsector contributed to the increase.

The personal and household goods subsector also rose for a fifth consecutive month, up 1.5% to $7.7 billion. Every industry within the subsector recorded higher sales, led by the pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry (+1.2%).

Following two consecutive monthly declines, the motor vehicle and parts subsector increased 0.7% to $8.9 billion, led by higher sales in the motor vehicle industry (+1.2%).

Sales in the miscellaneous subsector declined 1.5% to $7.2 billion. Four of five industries in the subsector recorded lower sales, led by the other miscellaneous industry (-4.4%), which includes wholesalers of goods such as logs, wood chips, minerals, ores and precious metals.

Sales up in three provinces

In March, sales increased in three provinces. Ontario accounted for most of the gain.

Sales rose 1.9% to $26.3 billion in Ontario on the strength of gains in the building material and supplies subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector.

In British Columbia, sales rose 0.8% to $5.3 billion, the highest value on record. The building material and supplies subsector contributed the most to the gain.

Sales declined 2.2% to $2.4 billion in Saskatchewan on weaker sales in the miscellaneous subsector. This was the second decline in three months. The gain in February in this province was revised down to 0.3% to reflect updated information provided by respondents.

The miscellaneous subsector was also the largest contributor to the decline in Manitoba, where sales fell 1.2% to $1.5 billion in March.

In Nova Scotia, sales decreased 5.8% to $695 million, their lowest level since March 2014.

Inventories rise in March

Inventories rose 1.0% to $71.4 billion in March. Gains were recorded in four of seven subsectors, which together represented 62% of wholesale inventories.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale inventories increase in March - Description and data table
Wholesale inventories increase in March

Chart 2: Wholesale inventories increase in March - Description and data table

The largest gain in dollar terms occurred in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+2.4%), its fourth consecutive monthly increase.

Inventories in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+4.5%) rose for the second time in three months.

The food, beverage and tobacco subsector (-2.2%) recorded a third consecutive monthly decline, while the miscellaneous subsector (-1.3%) decreased for the first time in five months.

The inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.32 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 Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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 Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey covers all industries within the wholesale sector as defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), with the exception of oilseed and grain merchant wholesalers (NAICS 41112), petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers (NAICS 412) and business-to-business electronic markets, and agents and brokers (NAICS 419).

This release incorporates annual revisions. Unadjusted monthly wholesale data were revised back to January 2014, while seasonally adjusted data were revised back to January 2011. Factors influencing revisions include the late receipt of respondent information, the correction of information in the data provided, the replacement of estimated figures with actual values (once available), the re-classification of companies within, into and out of the wholesale trade sector and updates to seasonal factors.

Data in volume terms were also revised back to January 2011.

The March 2015 issue of Wholesale Trade (Catalogue number63-008-X) will soon be available.

Wholesale trade data for April will be released on June 17.

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), Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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