Release taken from Statistics Canada   ; Wholesalers ended the year on a high note, with the automotive sector providing much of the impetus for the largest monthly gain in over two years.   ; Wholesale sales jumped  ; 2.7% in December to  ; $42.8  ; billion, following a 0.3% rise in November. December's increase was the largest since March  ; 2004.   ; While a solid showing by the automotive sector (+7.5%) was behind much of December's rise, there were also notable gains in the other products" (mainly agricultural products, chemicals and recycled metals), personal and household goods and building materials sectors. Three sectors registered drops in December, with the most significant decline coming in the food, beverage and tobacco products sector. Sales outside of the automotive sector increased  ; 1.6% during the month.   ; Not surprisingly, the jump in auto sales was most keenly felt in Ontario (the home of Canada's auto sector) as sales in the province rose by  ; 5.3%. Most other provinces and territories also registered gains during the month.   ; Also noteworthy was the  ; 0.8% decline in total wholesale inventories in December. While seemingly small, this was the largest one month decline since May  ; 2003  ; and, coupled with the large increase in sales in December, brought the inventory-to-shipment ratio off a three-year high.   ; Sales in constant dollars, which exclude the effects of price changes, rose by  ; 1.3% in December.
Momentum December's strong showing capped another robust year for wholesalers, as  ; 2006  ; sales increased  ; 6.5% to  ; $501  ; billion.   ; This was the third consecutive year of strong growth for the wholesale industry, which has proved to be one of the economy's leading lights in recent years. As key intermediaries in the economy, wholesalers have benefited from both strong business investment, which has been supported by healthy corporate balance sheets, as well as record employment levels that continue to support solid growth in consumer spending.   ; Overall, six out of seven wholesale sectors grew in  ; 2006, the only exception being the farm products sector. The machinery and electronic equipment sector led the way with a  ; 9.7% increase, its highest since  ; 1997. Continued high levels of business investment in the oil and gas industry were again a key factor behind the growth in this sector.   ; With much of the recent business investment going to fuel the boom in Western Canada,  ; 2006  ; also proved to be another excellent year for Alberta's wholesalers, who led the nation with a  ; 13.0% increase in sales. The gain was all the more impressive in light of the  ; 15.5% rise recorded in  ; 2005  ; and marked the third consecutive year of double-digit growth for the province.   ; Sales in constant dollars, which exclude the effects of price fluctuations, increased by  ; 8.7% in  ; 2006. This was the fourth year in a row that constant dollar sales have exceeded sales in current dollars. The difference between the two series has been most apparent in the computer and electronics trade group, where rapid price declines have resulted in much lower growth rates in the current dollar series during this period.   ; A more detailed look at wholesale trade in  ; 2006  ; will be release in the spring.   ; Auto Sector Gets Boost Motor vehicle sales jumped  ; 9.9% in December to  ; $6.7  ; billion, the second largest increase of