Wholesale sales increased 1.0% to $61.0 billion in April, a seventh consecutive monthly advance. Gains were recorded in three of seven subsectors, accounting for 41% of total wholesale sales, and were led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.7% from March to April.
Higher sales in three subsectors
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector recorded the largest gain in dollar terms in April, up 7.3% to $12.4 billion. Higher sales were recorded in three of four industries, with the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment, and the other machinery, equipment and supplies industries contributing the most to the gain after both posted declines in March.
Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 1.5% to $11.8 billion, a third consecutive monthly gain. Higher sales in the food industry (+1.4%) contributed the most to the gain.
The motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded a third consecutive decline in April, with sales down 1.7% to $11.3 billion. The motor vehicle industry accounted for most of the decline as sales receded 2.1% to $9.1 billion. Manufacturing sales of motor vehicles also declined in April, down 3.7% to $5.7 billion.
Following a 3.3% increase in March, the miscellaneous subsector declined 1.5% to $7.9 billion, with decreases reported in three of five industries. The chemical (except agricultural) and allied product (-5.1%) and the recyclable material (-8.1%) industries accounted for most of the decline.
The building material and supplies subsector and the personal and household goods subsector both declined 0.7% in April following gains in March.
Sales up in seven provinces
Wholesale sales rose in seven provinces in April, representing 79% of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, Ontario contributed the most to the gain.
Sales in Ontario rose for a fifth consecutive month, up 1.3% to a record high $31.5 billion in April. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector was the largest contributor to the gain.
Quebec recorded a second consecutive increase, rising 1.4% to a record high $11.0 billion. Gains were recorded in six subsectors, led by the building material and supplies subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
In Saskatchewan, sales were up 5.4% to $2.3 billion, primarily on higher sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. This was the province’s second consecutive gain.
Sales in Manitoba grew 5.4% to a record high $1.7 billion in April on the strength of gains in three subsectors.
In Nova Scotia, sales grew 3.3% to $838 million, a second consecutive gain. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector and the building material and supplies subsector contributed the most to the gain.
Sales in New Brunswick rose 2.7% to $522 million, with gains in four subsectors. Sales in Prince Edward Island edged up 0.2% to $74 million, with gains in five subsectors. This was the second consecutive increase for both provinces.
Newfoundland and Labrador recorded its first decline in three months, with sales dropping 36.3% to $308 million, more than offsetting a 28.0% gain in March. The miscellaneous subsector was the largest contributor to the decrease.
Following six consecutive gains, sales in Alberta edged down 0.3% to $6.4 billion, led by the motor vehicle and parts subsector.
In British Columbia, sales edged down 0.2% to $6.2 billion, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. This was British Columbia’s third monthly decrease in the past four months.
Inventories increase for the eighth time in nine months
Wholesale inventories increased 0.8% in April, the eighth increase in the past nine months. Five of seven subsectors rose, representing 84% of total wholesale inventories.
The motor vehicle and parts subsector (+1.9%) posted the largest increase in April, a third consecutive monthly gain.
The miscellaneous subsector (+2.1%) recorded the second largest increase in inventories, the subsector’s seventh consecutive monthly increase.
The personal and household goods subsector (+1.1%) rose for the fourth time in five months.
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+1.7%) recorded its second increase through the first four months of 2017. This subsector recorded gains in each month in the 2016 calendar year.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.3%) rose after recording a 4.2% decline in March.
The building material and supplies subsector (-1.0%) recorded the largest decline in April. This was the subsector’s first decline since November 2016.
The inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.29 in March to 1.28 in April. The last time the inventory-to-sales ratio was this low was in December 2014, when the ratio was 1.24. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.