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Canadian Wholesale Sales Up 1.2% in April

Canadian wholesale sales rose 1.2 percent to C$51.2 billion (US$47.1 billion) in April following a decline in March. Higher sales were recorded in all subsectors except for food, beverage and tobacco. The subsectors that rose in April accounted for 80 percent of wholesale sales.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 1.2 percent.

The largest gain in April was in the building material and supplies subsector (up 3.6 percent), which rose for a fourth consecutive month to reach C$7.4 billion (US$6.8 billion). All of the subsector's industries recorded higher sales, with the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry (up 4.4 percent) contributing the most to the gain. This was the fifth consecutive increase for this industry. Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials rose significantly in April.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector also recorded a large gain in April, rising 2.2 percent to C$10.8 billion (US$9.93 billion). The computer and communications equipment industry (up 5.3 percent) reported a third increase in four months and the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (up 3.9 percent) rose for a fourth consecutive month. The gains in these two industries offset declines in the farm, lawn and garden machinery and equipment industry (down 6.7 percent), which recorded its lowest level since June 2013.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector rose 1.1 percent to C$8.3 billion (US$7.6 billion), offsetting some of the decline recorded in March. Gains were recorded in all of the subsector's industries. Stronger exports, imports and manufacturing sales were also recorded for motor vehicles and parts in April.

Sales rose 0.5 percent to C$6.6 billion (US$6.1 billion) in the miscellaneous subsector. The agricultural supplies industry grew 2.1 percent and the recyclable material industry grew 5 percent, offsetting the decline in the paper, paper product and disposable plastic product industry (down 3.3 percent).

The farm product subsector increased 3.1 percent in April.

Sales decreased 0.9 percent to C$10.1 billion (US$9.3 billion) in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector as a result of lower sales in all of its industries.

Sales increased in six provinces, representing 74 percent of wholesale sales in Canada.

Sales rose 2.3 percent to C$24.6 billion (US$22.6 billion) in Ontario, more than offsetting the decline in March. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector was the largest contributor to the increase, although gains were recorded in most subsectors.

British Columbia was the second largest contributor to the increase in April, rising 3.9 percent to C$5.1 billion (US$4.7 billion). Gains were recorded in most subsectors and led by the building material and supplies subsector. This increase partly reflected the resolution of a month-long strike at Port Metro Vancouver in March.

Sales in Alberta  rose 0.8 percent to C$6.9 billion (US$6.3 billion).

In Nova Scotia, sales rose 4.8 percent to C$0.7 billion (US$0.6 billion) on the strength of gains in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. This was the highest level recorded for the province since October 2013.

Following three consecutive monthly gains, sales decreased 1 percent to C$9.4 billion (US$8.6 billion) in Quebec. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector led the decline.

In Saskatchewan, sales fell 3.2 percent to C$2 billion (US$1.8 billion). Similarly, sales in Manitoba dropped 3.7 percent to C$1.4 billion (US$1.3 billion). In both provinces, the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector accounted for the decline.

Sales in New Brunswick decreased 2.8 percent to C$0.5 billion (US$0.46 billion), the third decline in four months. The food, beverage and tobacco subsector was the largest contributor to the decline.

Inventories rose 0.7 percent to C$64.7 billion (US$59.5 billion) in April. Gains were recorded in four of seven subsectors, representing 74 percent of wholesale inventories.

The largest gain in dollar terms was in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (up 1.3 percent).

Inventories rose 2.3 percent in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector.

Gains were recorded for a second consecutive month in the building materials and supplies subsector (up 0.8 percent) and the personal and household goods subsector (up 0.5 percent).

Following three consecutive monthly gains, inventories declined 1 percent in the motor vehicle and parts subsector.

The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.27 in March to 1.26 in April. 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.

© 2019 Gale Media, Inc.

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