Building Materials Lead Wholesale Sales

Sales by Canadian wholesalers rose 0.4 per cent in April to $71.5 billion, the third increase in the past four months, says Statistics Canada. Activity in the sector was mixed in April, with continued strong growth in the sale of building materials and supplies largely offset by lower sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector and the miscellaneous subsector. Wholesale volumes fell 0.2 per cent during the month. Sales in the building materials and supplies subsector rose 8.7 per cent in April to $13.1 billion, the highest level on record. Sales in April 2021 were 26.5 per cent higher than in December 2020. The demand for housing and home renovations has generated both an increase in the volume of building materials and supplies sold and in their prices. Exports of lumber and sawmill products rose 7.8 per cent in April, largely to meet the demand of American home builders. The number of new housing starts fell in both Canada and the United States in April, however, there is usually a several month lag between the start of a new home build and the use of lumber. As a result, sales in April reflect the fact that new home builds have been trending higher for the past several months. Wholesale sales rose in seven provinces and one territory in April, representing 45 per cent of national wholesale sales. The largest increase in April was in Alberta, where wholesalers reported $7.6 billion in sales, 5.3 per cent more than in March. This was the second consecutive increase in wholesale sales for Alberta and the highest value on record. The building material and supplies wholesalers reported the largest growth in sales (+20.5 per cent to $1.5 billion). Residential building permits in Alberta increased by 15.4 per cent in April.