Ottawa – Wholesale sales declined 0.3% to $54.0 billion in November 2014, following two consecutive monthly gains. Decreases were recorded in three of seven subsectors, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, and were partially offset by higher sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector.
In volume terms, wholesale sales were down 0.3%.
Lower sales in three subsectors
Following three consecutive monthly gains, the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector recorded the largest decrease in dollar terms, with sales declining 2.8% to $11.3 billion in November. The construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-3.5%) and the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (-8.6%) were the largest contributors to the decrease. For both of these industries, the decline in November did not offset the gains recorded in the previous three months.
Sales decreased 1.7% to $7.9 billion in the building material and supplies subsector, its first decline in 2014. All industries in the subsector posted declines, led by the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry (-3.6%).
The farm product subsector fell 7.3% to $763 million, its second-highest level on record.
The motor vehicles and parts subsector rose 2.8% to $9.5 billion, partially offsetting the declines recorded in other subsectors. The motor vehicle industry (+2.7%) accounted for most of the gain in this subsector.
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 0.5% to $10.3 billion as a result of higher sales in the beverage industry (+6.8%) and the food industry (+0.2%).
Sales increased 0.4% to $7.3 billion in the personal and household goods subsector. The toiletries, cosmetics and sundries industry (+6.9%) led the gain, posting its first increase in five months.
Sales down in three provinces
In November, wholesale sales declined in three provinces, with Ontario leading the decrease.
Following seven consecutive monthly increases, sales in Ontario were down 1.0% to $26.3 billion. The building material and supplies subsector, and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector were the largest contributors to the decline.
Sales in Newfoundland and Labrador fell 9.3% to $420 million, a second consecutive monthly decrease. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led the decline.
Quebec sales decreased 0.4% to $9.8 billion, a second consecutive monthly decrease. Lower sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector, and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector contributed to the decline.
Saskatchewan recorded a fourth consecutive monthly increase as sales rose 3.5% to $2.3 billion on the strength of gains in the miscellaneous subsector, and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector.
Inventories edge up in November
Inventories edged up 0.1% in November to $68.2 billion, an 11th consecutive monthly increase. Gains were recorded in three of seven subsectors, representing 41% of wholesale inventories.
The building material and supplies subsector (+1.2%) recorded the largest gain in dollar terms, a ninth consecutive monthly increase. Inventories in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+1.0%) also rose for a ninth consecutive month in November.
Following three consecutive monthly increases, inventories in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined 0.9%.
The inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.26 in November. 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.