Housing Market Surge Propels Manufacturing Sales

Manufacturing sales rose 3.5 per cent to $57.8 billion in March ‒ the highest level since June 2019 ‒ on higher sales in 17 of 21 industries, led by the motor vehicle, petroleum, and coal and food product industries, says Statistics Canada. Wood product sales rose 4.6 per cent to a record high $4.5 billion in March on higher prices. Sales increased by 21.5 per cent in the first quarter following a 16.9 per cent gain in the fourth quarter of 2020. Manufacturers are benefiting from higher demand from the United States and a surge in housing market activity in Canada. Sales of wood products in constant dollars rose nine per cent in first quarter. Manufacturing sales rose in every province in March, led by higher sales in Ontario and Quebec. Following two consecutive increases, total inventories edged down 0.4 per cent to $88.2 billion in March. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.59 in February to 1.53 in March. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level. While unfilled orders were unchanged at $86.6 billion in March, the total value of new orders rose 5.2 per cent to $57.8 billion following a 5.9 per cent decline in February.