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Wholesale sales remained stable through to October: Stats Canada

Ottawa, ON -- Wholesale sales in Canada remained unchanged at $44.9 billion in October 2010, after advancing 0.7% in September, Statistics Canada reports.


Ottawa, ON — Wholesale sales in Canada remained unchanged at $44.9 billion in October 2010, after advancing 0.7% in September, Statistics Canada reports.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.3% in October. Since the beginning of 2010, the volume of sales has remained relatively stable.

In October, the results for the subsectors were mixed, with four of the seven subsectors reporting higher sales. Those increases were largely offset by lower sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.

The largest gain in dollar terms came from the motor vehicle and parts subsector, which increased 2.8% to $7.9 billion in October. All three industries in this subsector posted higher sales.

The second largest increase was recorded in the personal and household goods subsector (+1.7%), reflecting higher sales in all of its component industries.

Sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined 3.5% in October to $9.1 billion. The computer and communications equipment and supplies industry was the main contributor to this decline, accounting for nearly 50% of the drop.

WHOLESALE SALES DOWN IN MOST PROVINCES

Wholesalers in eight provinces reported lower sales in October. Those decreases were largely offset by higher sales in Ontario.

Ontario, which accounts for more than 50% of all wholesale sales, registered a third consecutive increase. In October, sales increased 1.5% to $23.3 billion, mainly owing to higher sales in the motor vehicle industry.

In Western Canada, sales were down in Saskatchewan (-4.1%), Alberta (-2.4%) and British Columbia (-1.0%). Lower sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the miscellaneous subsector were the main factors behind the declines registered in these provinces.

In Alberta, the drop in sales in October followed a period of strong growth that began in November 2009, spurred by strong sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.

Sales in Manitoba rose 1.1 % in October, marking a fifth consecutive monthly advance.

In Quebec, wholesale sales fell 1.0% in October, the fifth consecutive decline.

INVENTORIES DOWN FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THREE MONTHS

Inventories declined 0.7% in October to $52.5 billion.

In October, 16 of the 25 wholesale trade industries recorded a drop in inventories. Wholesalers in the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry and those in the food product industry had the largest inventory declines in dollar terms.

These declines were partially offset by higher inventories reported by wholesalers of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies as well as wholesalers of textile, clothing and footwear.

The inventory-to-sales ratio declined to 1.17 in October. The ratio has stabilized during 2010, whereas it fell steeply throughout 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.

Wholesale trade data for November 2010 will be released on January 20, 2011.