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Source: Statistics Canada Release
Wholesale sales rose 0.8% to $41.4 billion in March after falling 1.0% in February. Although five of the seven wholesale sectors posted gains, most of March's increase was attributable to stronger sales of personal and household goods (+3.6%) and of machinery and electronic equipment (+3.3%).
Conversely, the automotive products sector was down sharply (-3.0%). Excluding the automotive products sector, wholesale sales rose 1.8% in March after declining 0.7% the previous month.
Since September 2003, total wholesale sales have generally been rising, with strength in most trade groups. Previously, slumping motor vehicle sales were the main cause of a decline that began in March 2003.
In constant prices, wholesale sales rose 0.2% in March.
During the first three months of 2006, the value of wholesale sales was 2.4% higher compared with the previous quarter. This increase was attributable in part to the strong showing of the automotive products sector, which posted a quarterly growth rate of 5.4%. The machinery and electronic equipment (+5.0%) sector and the building materials (+3.6%) sector also registered solid gains.
Wholesalers of computers and electronic equipment (+3.5%) and office and professional equipment (+4.0%) benefited from increased investment in March. For wholesalers of computers and electronic equipment, this was only the third increase in nine months. By contrast, wholesalers of office and professional equipment, who registered their fourth consecutive monthly gain, have generally posted rising sales since October 2003.
Wholesalers in the machinery and equipment group posted a 2.8% increase in March. This group has experienced almost continual growth since March 2004. The rise in prices of raw materials has prompted increased investment, which has greatly contributed to the growth of this group. According to the survey of private and public investment intentions for 2006, investment in equipment should remain robust in 2006, considering the excellent prospects in the energy and utilities sectors. Among wholesalers in general, the machinery and equipment group ranks fourth in sales and first in inventories.
For a fifth time in seven months, wholesale sales of motor vehicle parts declined (-0.4%). Wholesalers in this industry, who do not supply auto plants but sell mainly to retailers and dealers, have posted generally stable sales since July 2004.