Building Materials Lead Wholesale Trade Decrease

A decline in building material and supplies wholesale products sales lead the way as wholesale trade volumes fell $68.8 billion in February, the second decline in three months. Despite the drop, Statistics Canada says these sales in February were the second highest on record. Sales were lower in four of the seven subsectors. For the second time in three months, most subsectors reported lower sales. The largest decline came in the building material and supplies subsector, which fell 6.1 per cent to $10.8 billion. This was the second drop in 10 months for the subsector, as prices for lumber, in particular, have risen sharply over the past year. However, housing starts in Canada fell for the third consecutive month in February. In the United States, housing starts hit a six-month low in February, leading to a decline in exports of lumber products. Sales declined in seven provinces and all three territories in February, accounting for 94.2 per cent of total wholesale sales. Ontario and Alberta posted the largest decreases in monthly sales. The value of wholesale inventories increased by 1.1 per cent in February to $92.2 billion. This was the third consecutive monthly increase and the largest month-over-month increase since June 2019.