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Canadian Distributor Sales Rise Slightly in May
August 1, 2007
Source: Statistics Canada   ; Following April's sharp decline, Canadian wholesale sales posted a modest rebound in May with most sectors registering gains.
Overall sales rose  ; 0.6% to  ; $43.1  ; billion in May, offsetting some of April's large drop (-3.0%). Five of the seven wholesale sectors reported higher sales in May, with the largest gains observed in the machinery and electronic equipment (+2.1%) and other products" (+1.9%) sectors. More modest rises were recorded by wholesalers of building materials, personal and household goods and automotive products.
These gains were partially offset by lower sales in the food, beverages and tobacco products sector, which posted its first decline of  ; 2007, and the farm products sector. Taking price fluctuations into account, the volume of sales in constant dollars rose  ; 1.4  ; % in May to  ; $44.5  ; billion.
Machinery and electronic equipment sector recoups most of April loss Sales in the machinery and electronic equipment sector rose  ; 2.1% in May to  ; $9.1  ; billion, helping to recoup most of the decline (-2.9%) registered in April. This was the seventh increase in eight months for this sector, although the year-over-year monthly growth rates in the first five months of  ; 2007  ; have eased somewhat from the double-digit levels recorded during the same period in  ; 2006.
Two of the three trade groups within this sector posted higher sales in May, with the largest increase (+5.1%) coming from the office and professional equipment trade group. This was the third increase in four months for this trade group, which accounts for around a fifth of all sales in the machinery and electronic equipment sector.
The other gain occurred in the machinery and equipment trade group (+2.3%), which only last month recorded its largest monthly decline (-6.0%) in two years. Sales in this trade group have been somewhat volatile of late, as April's reversal followed a large increase in March.
The only negative note came in the computer and other electronic equipment trade group, which posted a slight decline (-0.3%). However, this was only the second decline in eight months for this group, which last year recorded its strongest annual growth since  ; 1999.
Sales of "other products" rise after large decline in April Sales of "other products" (primarily agricultural products, chemicals, recycled materials and paper products) rose  ; 1.9% to  ; $5.2  ; billion in May, partially offsetting the large drop (-4.9%) in April.
While the sales trend for this sector has eased somewhat over the past three months, sales in the first five months of  ; 2007  ; are still well ahead of those in the same period in  ; 2006, the result of stronger sales of agricultural supplies (primarily fertilizers) and recycled materials.
Farm products sector hit by weaker sales of live animals Wholesalers of farm products posted their largest monthly decline since May  ; 2006  ; as sales tumbled  ; 7.0% in May to  ; $452  ; million. This was the second consecutive drop in sales for this sector, reversing all of the increases registered in the first three months of the  ; 2007.
As was the case in April, the decrease was largely attributable to lower sales of live animals, which make up almost half of all sales in this sector. Most of these animals are exported to the United States. In May, exports of live animals fell (-6.6%) for the second consecutive month following a similar decline (-6.5%) in April.
Despite these recent declines, exports of live animals have been gradually increasing as more countries ratify agreements to accept Canadian cattle. According to the latest international trade data, exports of live animals in the first five months of  ;