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Canada. Wholesale Sales Up

Wholesale sales in current dollars edged up 0.2% in September, following a 1.5% decline in August. 

Higher sales in the machinery and electronic equipment sector, and the food, beverages and tobacco products sector offset weaker sales in the automotive products sector. Sales excluding the automotive products sector rose 0.6%.

In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 0.3% in September.

Overall, four of the seven sectors, accounting for two-thirds of total wholesale sales, increased in September.

The largest increase came in the machinery and electronic equipment sector, which rose 1.2% in September. Following a 7.2% decline in August, the machinery and equipment trade group, which accounts for close to half of the total sector, rose 4.7%. This was the second increase in 10 months. The computer and other electronic equipment, and office and professional equipment trade groups both declined.

The food, beverage and tobacco products sector rose 1.0% in September, solely based on the strength of the food products trade group.

Sales in the automotive products sector fell 1.9% in September. A 2.0% drop in the sales of motor vehicles was behind most of the decrease. The decline in motor vehicle sales reflects weaker imports of trucks, which fell 31.5%, according to the latest international merchandise trade data. Motor vehicle parts and accessories fell 1.5%, posting its first decline in five months.

Ontario accounts for most of total sales increase

Following a 2.2% decline in August, wholesalers in Ontario reported increased sales in September. The province, which accounts for about half of Canada's total wholesale sales, saw an increase of 1.2%. Higher sales in the "other products," (which includes agricultural fertilizers and supplies, chemicals, recycled materials, paper products and other wholesalers) and the food, beverages and tobacco products sectors were major factors contributing to this increase.

In Quebec (-0.8%), sales fell for the second straight month. The automotive products and personal and household goods sectors accounted for most of the decline.

Wholesale sales fell in all four western provinces, with the largest declines in Saskatchewan (-4.1%) and Manitoba (-3.4%). In Saskatchewan, lower sales in agricultural chemical and other farm supplies was a major contributor to the decline. In Manitoba, much of the decrease can be attributed to lower sales in the "other products" sector.

Inventories continue to fall

Wholesale inventories fell 0.9% to $55.0 billion in September, the seventh consecutive monthly decline.

Overall, 8 of the 15 wholesale trade groups reported lower inventory levels, with the largest decline in dollar terms in machinery and equipment, food products, and apparel. Higher inventories were seen in motor vehicle parts and accessories, and building supplies.

The increase in sales, combined with the decrease in inventories, translated into a decline in the inventory-to-sales ratio from 1.35 in August to 1.34 in September. This was the lowest level since November 2008.

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.
© Statistics Canada -

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