Canadian wholesale sales rose 0.5% to US$49.7B in August following two straight monthly declines, led by higher sales in food, beverage and tobacco, machinery, equipment and supplies subsectors

OTTAWA , October 18, 2012 (press release) – Wholesale sales rose by 0.5% to $49.7 billion in August, following two consecutive monthly declines. Higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, were the main contributors to the increase.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.5% in August.

Sales increase in four out of seven subsectors

In August, four out of seven subsectors, representing 56% of total sales, reported increases.

The largest advance was in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, where sales rose 2.3% to $9.5 billion. The gain was based solely on growth in the food industry (+2.7%), which posted its largest advance since February 2010. This increase followed a decline of 2.1% in July.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector rose 1.4%, the fourth increase in five months. All four industries in this subsector posted gains in August, with the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (+4.3%) and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+1.4%) accounting for two-thirds of the increase.

After relatively flat sales since April 2012, the building material and supplies subsector gained 1.0% in August. This increase reflected higher sales in all three industries of the subsector.

The largest decrease occurred in the miscellaneous subsector, where sales fell 1.9%. This was the fourth consecutive decrease in the subsector. The chemical (except agricultural) and allied product industry (-4.8%) and the agricultural supplies industry (-2.8%) accounted for most of the decline in August.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector (-0.7%) and the personal and household goods subsector (-0.5%) also reported losses in August.
Wholesale sales up in most provinces

Sales were up in eight provinces in August, with Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec accounting for most of the national increase.

Sales in Ontario, which account for close to 50% of total wholesale trade, advanced 0.9%, partially offsetting a decline in July. Sales in Ontario have increased six out of eight months since January 2012.

Sales in British Columbia gained 1.5%, the first increase in three months.

In Quebec, sales rose 0.4%, following a 0.9% decrease in July.

Saskatchewan reported the largest sales decrease (-6.2%), the third consecutive monthly decline. Lower sales in the agricultural supplies industry contributed to the drop in August.
Inventories continue to increase

Inventories rose 0.8% to $61.6 billion in August, a ninth consecutive monthly increase. Overall, 12 of the 25 industries registered higher inventories.

The largest increases in dollar terms were in the motor vehicle industry (+8.7%) and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+1.8%).

The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 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.

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