Building Materials Lead Wholesale Sales

Wholesale sales fell 1.3 per cent in December to $66.5 billion, the first decline after seven consecutive increases, says Statistics Canada. The decrease was attributable to sharply lower sales of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and accessories and machinery, equipment, and supplies. These declines were modestly offset by higher sales in the miscellaneous subsector. Notwithstanding the 1.3 per cent decline in December, sales for the month were still three per cent higher than levels observed before the COVID-19 pandemic, with all 10 provinces recording higher sales than in February 2020. December sales were the third highest for the sector on record. Sales in five of the seven subsectors were higher than the pre-COVID-19 benchmark, led by building material and supplies (12.2 per cent) and machinery, equipment, and supplies (6.6 per cent). Lower sales were recorded in seven provinces, accounting for 96 per cent of total wholesale sales in December. Ontario and British Columbia posted the largest decline in monthly sales. Inventories slipped 0.1 per cent in December to $90 billion. The building material and supplies subsector saw the largest increase in December, up 2.4 per cent to $14.5 billion.