Canadian wholesale sales rose 2.5 percent to $55.4 billion in December, according to Statistics Canada. Higher sales were recorded in six of seven subsectors, representing 80 percent of wholesale sales. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 2.4 percent.
On an annual basis, wholesale sales totaled $633 billion in 2014, up 6.4 percent from the previous year. This increase exceeded the annual gains recorded in both 2012 (4.3 percent) and 2013 (1.3 percent).
All of the seven wholesale trade subsectors covered by the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey recorded higher annual sales in 2014. The building material and supplies subsector and the motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded the largest increases in dollar terms. The smallest subsector, farm products, recorded the largest annual gain in percentage terms.
Every province recorded higher sales in 2014. Ontario, which accounted for approximately half of wholesale sales, contributed the most to the overall gain in dollar terms.
The motor vehicle and parts subsector recorded the largest gain in dollar terms in December, rising 5.5 percent to $10.1 billion. A third consecutive monthly increase in the motor vehicle industry (9 percent), in part due to a shift in seasonal sales, accounted for most of the gain. December's sales were the highest on record for both this industry and its subsector. Higher exports, imports and manufacturing sales of motor vehicles were also recorded in December.
The miscellaneous subsector recorded higher sales for a fifth consecutive month, rising 6.1 percent to a record $7.3 billion. The largest contributors to the gain were the agricultural supplies industry (18.3 percent) and the chemical (except agricultural) and allied product industry (7 percent). Exports and imports of fertilizer, pesticide and other chemical products rose in December.
Sales in the building material and supplies subsector increased 3.6 percent to $8.1 billion, more than offsetting the decline in November. This gain was largely attributable to the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies industry (8.5 percent).
The personal and household goods subsector rose 1.1 percent to a record high $7.4 billion. All of the subsector's industries contributed to the gain, led by the home furnishings industry (9.7 percent).
Machinery, equipment and supplies recorded the sole decline in December, edging down 0.2 percent to $11.2 billion. A second consecutive decline in the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-3.8 percent) more than offset a gain in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry (2.4 percent).
Wholesale sales rose in seven provinces in December, representing 98 percent of total wholesale sales.
Ontario accounted for most of the gain, with sales rising 3.7 percent to $27.5 billion. Gains were widespread, led by the motor vehicle and parts subsector as well as the building material and supplies subsector.
In British Columbia, sales rose 2.6 percent to $5.2 billion, led by gains in the miscellaneous subsector and the building material and supplies subsector.
The miscellaneous subsector was also a large contributor to the gains recorded in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Saskatchewan, sales increased 3.7 percent to $2.4 billion. In Manitoba, sales rose 3.3 percent to $1.5 billion.
In Nova Scotia, sales rose 5.6 percent to $818 million. Gains were widespread across subsectors.
Sales in Alberta remained relatively flat for the sixth consecutive month, edging up 0.3 percent to $7.2 billion.
Inventories increased 1 percent to $69.1 billion in December. Increases were recorded in six of seven subsectors, accounting for 87 percent of wholesale inventories.
The largest increase in dollar terms was in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (1.4 percent). The miscellaneous subsector rose 1.3 percent.
In the building materials and supplies subsector, inventories rose 1.4 percent, and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 1.2 percent.
Inventories declined 0.8 percent in the motor vehicle and parts subsector.
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.26 in November to 1.25 in December. 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.