MRO Magazine

Wholesale sales and inventories recovered in June


August 21, 2015
By Bill Roebuck

Ottawa – Wholesale sales rose 1.3% to $55.3 billion in June 2015, more than offsetting the decline in May, on the strength of gains in five of seven subsectors, according to Statistics Canada. In the second quarter of 2015, wholesale sales rose 2.1% compared with the first quarter.

In volume terms, wholesale sales rose 1.1% in June.

Higher sales in five subsectors

Higher sales were recorded in five subsectors in June, together representing 86% of wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and parts subsector led the gain.


The motor vehicle and parts subsector rose 3.0% to $10.2 billion in June, more than offsetting its decline in May. The motor vehicle industry (+3.4%) contributed the most to the increase as it rose for a third time in four months. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales were up 0.9%.

Following two consecutive declines, sales in the personal and household goods subsector rose 2.2% to a record $7.8 billion. Gains in the pharmaceuticals and pharmacy supplies industry (+3.8%) and the toiletries, cosmetics and sundries industry (+4.6%) accounted for the increase. Exports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products were also higher in June.

Machinery, equipment and supplies

In the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, sales rose 1.3% to $11.2 billion in June, partially offsetting the decline in May. The computer and communications equipment and supplies industry led the gain, up 3.6% following three consecutive declines. The farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (+6.1%) also contributed to the increase, partially offsetting its 7.4% decrease in May.

Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 1.2% to $10.8 billion in June, their seventh increase in eight months. The food industry (+1.7%) was behind the gain, partly as a result of higher sales by wholesalers of fish and seafood products. Exports of fish, shellfish and other fishery products also rose in June.

The miscellaneous subsector declined for the fifth time in six months, down 1.7% to $7.0 billion. The agricultural supplies industry (-5.5%) contributed the most to the decline, recording its second consecutive decrease. Dry weather in the Western provinces contributed to the decline.

Sales up in seven provinces

In June, wholesale sales increased in seven provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec.

Sales in Ontario rose 1.3% to $27.8 billion in June, their highest level since December 2014. Gains were widespread, led by the motor vehicle and parts subsector.

In Quebec, sales increased 3.1% to a record $10.0 billion, while sales in Nova Scotia increased 7.8% to $822 million, their second highest level on record. Sales in both provinces rose on the strength of gains in all subsectors.

Following six consecutive declines, sales increased 0.8% to $6.7 billion in Alberta in June.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, sales rose 13.0% to $454 million, more than offsetting the 7.8% decline in May. The miscellaneous subsector and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector contributed to the gain.

Higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector also led the gains in New Brunswick, where sales rose 4.7% to $556 million, and in Prince Edward Island, where sales increased 5.8% to $63 million.

Sales decreased for a second consecutive month in Manitoba, down 6.9% to $1.4 billion. Declines were widespread, led by the miscellaneous subsector.

Declines were also widespread in Saskatchewan, where sales decreased for a sixth consecutive month, down 1.7% to $2.3 billion.

Inventories rise in June

In June, wholesale inventories rose 1.1% to $72.5 billion, the highest level on record. Gains were recorded in six of seven subsectors, which together represented 82% of wholesale inventories.

Following a decline in May, inventories in the miscellaneous subsector increased 3.2% to their highest level on record.

Inventories increased for the sixth time in seven months in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.7%) and for the fourth time in six months in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.3%).

The building material and supplies subsector (-0.6%) recorded the sole decline in June, down for the second consecutive month.

The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.31 in June.

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.