Following a decline in July sales, August wholesale sales increased 1.4% and reached a new high of $81.3 billion. Growth was reported in five of the seven subsectors, representing 86% of wholesale sales. The miscellaneous goods subsector, the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the food, beverage and tobacco subsector led the growth for wholesale sales in August. Constant dollar sales rose 1.2% in August.

Miscellaneous Subsector Leads the Gains for August Sales

Sales in the miscellaneous merchant wholesalers subsector rose 3.9% to $12.8 billion in August, its fourth straight increase. Although three of the five industries in the subsector posted lower sales, the agricultural supplies industry’s growth of 13.2% to $5.2 billion offset the declines in other industries. 

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector continued to record increased sales, up 1.6% to $17.4 billion. The subsector has posted increased sales for 10 of the last 12 months. August was led by strength in the other machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+6.4% to $4.0 billion) and the construction, forestry, mining, and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (+4.0% to $6.0 billion). Partially offsetting the gains for the subsector was a decrease in sales (-4.7% to $5.0 billion) in the computer and communications equipment and supplies industry.

Sales Increase in the Majority of Provinces and Territories in August, Mainly Led by Ontario, Alberta and Quebec

Sales increased in six provinces and one territory in August, with the largest gains seen in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Combined, the sales of these three provinces represented 98% of the national level growth.

Inventories Continue to Increase in August

Inventories rose 1.5% to $123.2 billion, the seventh consecutive monthly increase. Specifically, six of the seven subsectors reported increased inventories, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, and the building material and supplies subsector. Miscellaneous was the only subsector with a decline, albeit slight, of inventories.

Inventories in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector rose 1.7% to $33.6 billion. This increase was mainly led by the construction, forestry, mining and other machinery and supplies industry. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector accounts for the largest share of wholesale trade inventories at 27.3%.

In the building material and supplies subsector, inventory levels increased 2.1% to $24.1 billion. The increase was mainly due to electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies, up 3.7% to $7.0 billion, followed by the metal services centres industry, where inventories grew 2.4% to $6.9 billion.

The inventory-to-sales ratio remained 1.52 in August. This ratio is a measure of the time (in months) required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current levels.

Source: Statistics Canada