Ottawa – Wholesale sales were unchanged at $55.4 billion in July 2015. Higher sales in three subsectors, representing 52% of wholesale sales, were offset by lower sales in other subsectors.
In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 0.4% in July.
Gains in three subsectors offset declines in others
Higher sales were recorded in three subsectors in July, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector increased 1.0% to $11.3 billion, its second consecutive increase. The largest contributor to the increase was the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry, which grew 4.6% to $3.8 billion, its highest level on record. This increase was partially offset by the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry, which decreased 3.0% to $3.7 billion, its lowest level in four months.
Following a 2.8% advance in June, wholesale sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector rose 0.2% to $10.3 billion in July, led by the motor vehicle industry (+0.5%). For both the subsector and the industry, it was the fourth increase in five months.
Sales in the miscellaneous subsector rose 0.3% to $7.0 billion, led by the chemical (except agricultural) and allied product industry (+6.5%) and the other miscellaneous industry (+2.2%). However, this gain was partly offset by widespread declines in the other industries in this subsector.
In dollar terms, the food, beverage and tobacco subsector had the largest decrease, down 0.5% to $10.7 billion, driven by the food industry (-0.7%). This was the second decline in nine months for this subsector.
Sales in the building material and supplies subsector decreased 0.5% to $7.6 billion. The gain in the metal service centres industry (+2.3%) was more than offset by a decline in the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry (-2.3%).
The farm product subsector decreased by 5.6%, its third decline in four months.
Sales up in three provinces
Wholesale sales were up in three provinces in July. Ontario recorded the largest increase in dollar terms. Gains were offset by lower sales in other provinces, led by Quebec.
Sales in Ontario rose 1.1% to $28.1 billion, a second consecutive increase, largely as a result of higher sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector.
In British Columbia, sales grew 1.3% to $5.3 billion, led by the miscellaneous subsector. Prince Edward Island also posted an increase (+1.6%). This was the third consecutive gain for both provinces.
After increasing 3.3% to a record high $10.0 billion in June, sales in Quebec decreased 1.4% to $9.9 billion in July. Widespread declines were recorded across subsectors.
Sales in Saskatchewan fell 3.1% to $2.2 billion, its seventh consecutive decline and the lowest level since August 2014. Lower sales in the agricultural supplies industry contributed to the decrease. This industry also contributed to lower sales in Manitoba (-0.4%). Dry weather continued to explain the declines in these provinces.
Sales in Alberta declined 0.7% to $6.7 billion, its lowest level since December 2013. Declines were widespread, led by the building material and supplies subsector.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, sales fell 11.0%, more than offsetting the 12.1% increase in June. The miscellaneous subsector contributed the most to the decline.
Lower sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector led the declines in Nova Scotia (-3.9%) and New Brunswick (-2.7%).
Inventories rise in July
Inventories rose 0.6% to $72.9 billion in July, a second consecutive advance. Increases were recorded in six of seven subsectors, accounting for 83% of total wholesale inventories.
The miscellaneous subsector (+1.6%) increased for the seventh time in nine months.
Inventories rose for the third consecutive month in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.1%) and a second consecutive month in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.0%).
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+1.2%) recorded a fourth consecutive increase.
The lone subsector to decrease in July was the building material and supplies subsector (-1.9%), which posted a fourth consecutive decline.
The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.31 in June to 1.32 in July. 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.