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Wholesale trade, May 2015

Released: 2015-07-20

Wholesale sales

$54.5 billion

May 2015

-1.0% 

(monthly change)

Wholesale sales decreased 1.0% to $54.5 billion in May, following two consecutive increases. Lower sales in four subsectors, which together represented 65% of wholesale sales, accounted for the decline. Excluding the motor vehicle and parts subsector, wholesale sales declined 0.6%.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were down 1.0%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Wholesale sales decrease in May
Wholesale sales decrease in May

Lower sales in four subsectors

The motor vehicle and parts subsector posted the largest decline in dollar terms in May, decreasing 3.1% to $9.7 billion following two consecutive gains. The motor vehicle industry accounted for the decline in May, down 4.2% following a 12.5% gain in April.

The miscellaneous subsector declined for the fourth time in five months, down 3.7% to $7.1 billion in May, more than offsetting its gain in April. The agricultural supplies industry (-6.3%) contributed the most to the decline, reaching its lowest level in six months. The recyclable material industry declined for the sixth time in eight months, down 5.6% to its lowest level in 16 months.

Sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector decreased 1.8% to $11.1 billion in May, more than offsetting the gain in April. A third decrease in four months in the other machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-4.6%) led the decline. Another large contributor was the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (-7.5%), which posted its second consecutive decrease. May's decline brought this industry to its lowest level since July 2012.

The personal and household goods subsector recorded a second consecutive decline in May, down 0.4% to $7.6 billion, on weaker sales in four of its six industries.

Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 2.3% to $10.7 billion in May, more than offsetting the decline in April. The food industry (+2.6%) led the gain with its sixth increase in seven months.

Sales down in six provinces

In May, sales were down in six provinces, which together represented 86% of wholesale sales. Ontario and Alberta contributed the most to the decline.

In Ontario, sales decreased 1.1% to $27.2 billion in May, offsetting some of its 3.4% gain in April. Lower sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the decline.

Alberta recorded a sixth consecutive decline, decreasing 2.2% to $6.7 billion in May. The miscellaneous subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector were the largest contributors to the decline. The miscellaneous subsector also contributed to a fifth consecutive decline in Saskatchewan, down 3.0% to $2.3 billion, and to lower sales in Newfoundland and Labrador, down 7.4% to $400 million.

Sales were down in Quebec for the third time in four months, declining 0.8% to $9.7 billion in May. Lower sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector led the decrease.

Sales in British Columbia rose 1.2% to $5.2 billion in May, on the strength of widespread gains across subsectors. The increase partially offset the decline in April.

Inventories edge up in May

Wholesale inventories edged up 0.1% to $71.7 billion in May, a seventh consecutive increase. Gains were recorded in four of seven subsectors, representing 56% of total wholesale inventories.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale inventories edge up in May
Wholesale inventories edge up in May

Following two consecutive declines, the personal and household goods subsector (+2.0%) recorded the largest increase in dollar terms in May.

Inventories in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+1.4%) rose for a second consecutive month, while the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.2%) recorded a sixth consecutive increase.

Following two consecutive gains, the motor vehicle and parts subsector (-1.8%) recorded the largest decrease in dollar terms.

Inventories declined for the first time in 15 months in the building material and supplies subsector (-0.5%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.30 in April to 1.32 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 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).

Next release

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

Products

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

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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