Issue 20-108: Manufacturing Sales

June 15, 2020

B.C. manufacturing sales (seasonally adjusted) decreased by 15.2% in April compared to March. The reduction in sales was widespread across most industries, with the largest dollar declines in food (-14.3%), wood products (-11.6%) and machinery (-24.1%) manufacturing.

Nationally, sales of manufactured goods fell by 28.5% in April, the largest monthly decline on record (dating back to 1992). Declines in sales were widespread across all industries and every province. The largest provincial declines were observed in Newfoundland and Labrador (-47.3%), Ontario (-37.1%) and Quebec (‑26.7%). Ontario and Quebec accounted for 81.0% of the national decline in sales. 

At the industry level, the national decline was led by transportation equipment (-76.4%) and petroleum and coal products (-46.4%) manufacturing. The decline in the transportation equipment industry was largely explained by lower sales of motor vehicle (-97.5%) and motor vehicle parts (-88.1%), as every assembly plant in Canada stopped operations and motor vehicle parts suppliers either shut down or operated at lower capacity. On the other hand, producers of petroleum and coal products are grappling with both physical distancing restrictions affecting operations, and lower prices due to an increase in teleworking and slower economic activity reducing overall demand for energy products. Despite increased demand, food manufacturing (-12.8%) saw a decline in sales in April, markedly in the meat and dairy industries, as COVID-19 outbreaks forced shutdowns of meat processing plants and dairy demand fell due to closures of schools, hotels and restaurants.

COVID-19 affected the operations of the vast majority of surveyed establishments (85.2%) in April. Respondents in several industries reported operating at lower capacity or ceasing operations due to lower demand for their products or physical distancing restrictions imposed by health officials.

Data Source: Statistics Canada