Issue 20-65: Wholesale Sales

April 20, 2020

Sales by wholesalers (seasonally adjusted) in British Columbia went up in February to reach $6.5 billion, a 1.6% increase compared to the previous month. The monthly increase was led by motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories wholesales (+10.7%). Machinery, equipment and supplies (+1.8%), and food, beverage and tobacco (+1.2%) wholesales also saw strong gains in the month.

Nationally, the value of sales by wholesalers increased (+0.7%) in February compared to January. Three of the seven industry subsectors and five provinces reported higher sales for the month. The increase was mostly driven by higher sales of motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+4.2%). Excluding this subsector, Canadian wholesales went down by 0.1% in February.

Among provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador (+4.6%) and Alberta (+2.3%) saw the largest sales increases in February. Ontario (+1.2%) also contributed heavily to the increase in wholesale trade for the month.

Survey respondents reports that the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the rail blockades caused sales to drop by $761 billion (unadjusted). Without these disruptions sales would have grown by 1.5% (seasonally adjusted) in February (as opposed to the estimated 0.7%). The combined disruption effects were mainly in transportation (such as delayed movement of products and backlogs) and shortages of raw materials. Note that estimates of the impacts should be interpreted with caution, as distinguishing the costs of specific events is difficult. In most cases, respondents were not able to distinguish between the effects of the pandemic and the effects of the rail blockades.

Data Source: Statistics Canada.