Wholesale sales rose for the third time in five months, up 1.5% to $63.9 billion in July, more than offsetting the 0.9% decline in June. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing approximately 66% of total wholesale sales.
The personal and household goods; food, beverage and tobacco; and motor vehicle and parts subsectors led the gains in July, while the miscellaneous subsector posted the largest decline.
In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 1.2%.
Increase in July attributable to higher sales in four of seven subsectors
The personal and household goods subsector rose for the second consecutive month, up 4.2% to $9.2 billion in July. Sales were up in five of six industries, led by the textile, clothing and footwear, and personal goods industries. In volume terms, sales in the subsector increased 4.6%.
Following two consecutive months of declines, sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector were up 2.6% to $12.0 billion, mainly on the strength of higher sales in the food industry (+2.4%). The gain in July was partly attributable to an increase in prices as sales in the industry were up 1.6% in volume terms.
Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector increased 2.4% to $11.1 billion, the first gain in four months. While increases were reported in all three industries, the motor vehicle industry (+2.0%) contributed the most to the overall gain in July.
Of the three subsectors posting declines in July, the miscellaneous subsector was the largest contributor, edging down 0.2% to $8.2 billion. Two of the subsector’s five industries declined in July, accounting for approximately 41% of the subsector’s sales.
Sales up in six provinces
Sales increased in six provinces in July, which together represented 97% of total wholesale sales in Canada. Quebec and Ontario accounted for most of the gain.
Sales in Quebec increased for the third time in four months, up 3.2% to $11.9 billion in July. Six of seven subsectors increased, led by the personal and household goods (+5.8%) and the food, beverage and tobacco (+5.0%) subsectors. Sales in the personal and household goods subsector increased after two consecutive declines, reaching their highest level on record, while sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector increased for the second consecutive month.
Wholesale sales in Ontario rose for the second month in a row, up 1.1% to $32.6 billion in July, on the strength of higher sales in four of seven subsectors. The motor vehicle and parts subsector (+3.1%), which rose after three consecutive monthly declines, and the personal and household goods subsector (+4.0%), which increased for the second consecutive month, contributed the most to higher sales in Ontario.
In Alberta, sales increased for the third time in five months, up 2.5% in July to $7.0 billion. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+4.9%) contributed the most to the gain. The gain in this subsector was attributable to higher sales reported in the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry.
Sales in British Columbia rose 0.7% to $6.7 billion in July, on the strength of higher sales in the food, beverage and tobacco and the building material and supplies subsectors. Both subsectors increased following two consecutive monthly declines.
In dollar terms, the Atlantic provinces reported the largest decline in July. Sales in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased 4.6% to $354 million, on the strength of lower sales in the miscellaneous subsector.
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector contributed the most to the decline in Nova Scotia (-1.0%), New Brunswick (-0.8%) and Prince Edward Island (-0.8%).
Inventories rise in July
Wholesale inventories increased for the fifth time in seven months, up 1.4% to $87.1 billion in July. Gains were recorded in six of seven subsectors, representing 86% of total wholesale inventories.
In dollar terms, the personal and household goods subsector (+4.3%) recorded the largest gain, on the strength of higher inventories in five of six industries. This was the third consecutive monthly increase for the subsector.
Inventories in the building material and supplies subsector (+2.2%) grew for the fifth consecutive month in July. The increase was mostly attributable to gains in the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry (+4.1%).
The food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+1.8%) posted a second consecutive monthly increase, mainly due to higher inventories in the food industry (+2.0%).
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+0.6%) rose for the fifth time in seven months, on the strength of the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (+1.5%).
The lone subsector to decline in July was motor vehicle and parts, down 0.8% following three consecutive monthly gains.
The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.36 in July. The ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current levels.
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