Wholesale sales increased for a fifth consecutive month in December, rising by 0.8% to $45.9 billion. Overall, six of the seven subsectors reported gains, representing almost all of wholesale sales.
In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 1.2% in December.
Nearly half of December's gain came from the machinery, equipment and supplies, and the motor vehicle and parts subsectors.
The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector accounted for more than one-third of the rise in wholesale sales in December. Sales for this subsector increased 1.3% to $9.9 billion. This was the eighth monthly increase in 2010 for this subsector.
Sales for the motor vehicle and parts subsector rose by 1.2%, largely reflecting higher sales by wholesalers of new motor vehicle parts and accessories.
The personal and household goods subsector advanced by 0.8% in December, after falling by 1.3% in November.
The sales of food, beverages and tobacco products rose by 0.6%. Sales in this subsector have been strong throughout most of 2010.
The farm products subsector (-6.0%) was the only subsector that saw a drop in sales in December, representing less than 2% of wholesale sales.
Sales up in most provinces
Sales rose in seven provinces in December, while wholesalers in Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island recorded lower sales.
Wholesale sales in Ontario rose by 1.0% to $23.3 billion in December. This growth was mainly a result of higher sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector and the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector.
Saskatchewan posted the highest provincial growth rate in December. Sales in the province rose by 5.5%, largely as a result of increased sales in the agricultural supplies industry. This was the fifth sales increase in Saskatchewan in six months.
In Quebec, wholesale sales edged down 0.2% in December, following a 2.9% advance in November.
Inventories fell by 0.5% in December to $52.5 billion. Overall, 14 of the 25 industries registered lower inventories.
The largest decrease was in the inventories of the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies (-2.8%). This decrease was offset by an inventory gain of 7.1% by motor vehicle wholesalers.
The decline in wholesalers' inventories, combined with increased sales, led to a decrease in the inventory-to-sales ratio, which fell from 1.16 in November to 1.15 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.
Wholesale sales bounce back 2010
After declining in 2009, as a result of the global economic downturn caused by the financial crisis, wholesale sales increased by 8.0% from 2009 to over $530 billion in 2010.
The seven component subsectors in wholesale trade registered increases in 2010. The motor vehicle and parts subsector was responsible for most of the gains in 2010, followed by wholesalers of the building materials and supplies subsector.
Wholesale sales increased in all provinces and territories