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Wholesale trade, October 2015

Released: 2015-12-18

Wholesale sales

$54.7 billion

October 2015

-0.6% 

(monthly change)

Wholesale sales declined 0.6% to $54.7 billion in October, a fourth consecutive decrease. Declines were recorded in four subsectors, led by lower sales in the food, beverage and tobacco and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors.

In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 0.6% in October.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Wholesale sales decrease in October
Wholesale sales decrease in October

Lower sales in four subsectors

In October, lower sales were recorded in four subsectors, which together accounted for 64% of wholesale sales.

In the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, sales declined 3.0% to $10.5 billion, their third decrease in four months. The food industry (-3.4%) led the decline, bringing the industry and its subsector to their lowest levels in six months.

Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector declined for a fourth consecutive month, down 2.1% to $9.5 billion. All of the industries in the subsector contributed to the decrease, led by the motor vehicle industry (-2.5%). In October, there were also lower imports of passenger cars and light trucks.

Following three consecutive gains, the miscellaneous subsector decreased 1.2% to $7.3 billion. The agricultural supplies industry, down 6.1% in October following two consecutive gains, contributed the most to the decline. The recyclable material industry also contributed to the decrease with its fourth consecutive decline, down 4.1% to its lowest level since June 2013.

Sales decreased for a second consecutive month in the building material and supplies subsector, down 0.3% to $7.5 billion. The metal service centres industry (-1.5%) led the decline with its third consecutive decrease, which brought the industry to its lowest level in four years.

In the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, sales rose 1.4% to $11.3 billion, their highest level since October 2014. The other machinery, equipment and supplies industry led the gain, rising 5.4% to its highest level on record.

The construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+2.9%) also recorded a gain, mostly offsetting its decline in September. Despite the gain in October, year-to-date sales for this industry were 3.3% lower compared with the same period in 2014.

Following three consecutive declines, sales in the personal and household goods subsector rose 1.7% to $7.9 billion. The pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry (+4.4%) contributed the most to the gain in October, more than offsetting its decline in September.

Sales down in seven provinces

In October, lower sales were recorded in seven provinces, which together accounted for 94% of wholesale sales. Ontario and Alberta were the largest contributors to the decline.

Ontario posted the largest decline in dollar terms in October, down 0.6% to $27.5 billion, its third consecutive decrease. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector contributed the most to the decline.

In Alberta, sales declined for the ninth time in 2015, down 2.2% to $6.3 billion. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector was the largest contributor to the decline.

Sales in British Columbia decreased 1.2% to $5.2 billion, a second consecutive decline, led by lower sales in the building material and supplies subsector.

In Prince Edward Island, sales declined 6.3% to $59 million, their second decrease in three months, bringing sales in the province to their lowest level in six months.

Saskatchewan recorded its second increase in three months, up 3.6% to $2.4 billion. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the widespread gains.

Sales in Newfoundland and Labrador rose 3.1% to $463 million on the strength of gains in most subsectors.

Inventories increase in October

Wholesale inventories rose 0.5% to $73.2 billion in October. Gains were recorded in three of seven subsectors, representing 62% of total wholesale inventories.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Wholesale inventories increase in October
Wholesale inventories increase in October

Inventories in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+3.3%) increased for a fifth consecutive month, reaching their highest level on record.

Both the personal and household goods subsector (+2.3%) and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.7%) recorded higher inventories in October following declines in September.

In the miscellaneous subsector, inventories declined 2.3% to their lowest level in five months, while a seventh consecutive decrease in the building material and supplies subsector (-1.4%) brought it to its lowest level in 15 months.

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.32 in September to 1.34 in October, the highest ratio since June 2009. 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 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).

For more information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 081-8011, 081-8012 and 081-8015 will be updated on January 6, 2016. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Wholesale trade data for November 2015 will be released on January 20, 2016.

Products

The October 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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.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@canada.ca), Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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