Wholesale sales in Alberta were down 8.7 per cent to $6.8 billion in May, according to a report released by Statistics Canada on Monday.
The federal agency said that six of seven subsectors in the province reported declines, led by the machinery, equipment and supplies (-14.8 per cent) and the miscellaneous (-15.3 per cent) subsectors.
On an annual basis, sales in Alberta fell by 6.9 per cent cent.
Across the country, StatsCan said wholesale sales were down 1.8 per cent in May to $63.8 billion, following five consecutive monthly increases. Lower sales were observed in six subsectors, accounting for 86 per cent of total wholesale sales. The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector was the leading contributor to May’s retreat, followed by the miscellaneous subsector, it said.
In volume terms, wholesale sales decreased 1.9 per cent from April to May.
On an annual basis, however, sales across Canada rose by 1.2 per cent.
“Sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector declined 4.3 per cent to $11.2 billion in May, following a 2.7 per cent increase in April. The decline in May was the subsector’s largest monthly drop since February 2018. Sales fell in each industry, led by the motor vehicle industry (-5.2 per cent). With the majority of sales in the motor vehicle industry comprising vehicles imported from other countries, the 5.2 per cent decline in wholesale sales for May coincides with a 3.9 per cent decrease in imports of passenger cars and light trucks over the same period,” said the federal agency.
It said wholesale inventories increased for a ninth consecutive month, up 1.1 per cent in May to $91.6 billion. In May, gains were recorded in six of seven subsectors, representing 83 per cent of total wholesale inventories.
“In dollar terms, the food, beverage and tobacco subsector (+3.5 per cent) reported the largest gain, on the strength of higher inventories in the food industry. This was the third monthly increase in 2019 for both the subsector and the industry,” added Statistics Canada.
The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.39 in April to 1.43 in May, a level last seen in October 1995. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level, it said.