Wholesale sales in Alberta declined in November for the fourth time in five months, down 2.4 per cent to $6.6 billion, said a report released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.
It was the second lowest level in 2019.
“Lower sales were reported in four of seven subsectors, led by motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories, down 11.9 per cent to $628 million in November following a 3.5 per cent gain in October. The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined 3.3 per cent to $2.1 billion, its third lowest level in 2019,” the federal agency reported.
On a year-over-year basis, sales fell by 2.7 per cent in the province.
Nationally, StatsCan said wholesale sales declined 1.2 per cent to $63.2 billion in November, the third decline in five months. Five of the seven subsectors reported lower sales, accounting for 77 per cent of total wholesale sales. In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector led the decrease. In volume terms, wholesale sales declined 0.9 per cent.
The federal agency said wholesale inventories across Canada increased 0.4 per cent to $91.9 billion in November after three consecutive monthly declines. Despite the increase in November, inventories were down 1.8 per cent from their highest level in July 2019.
“The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.43 in October to 1.45 in November, a level last seen in June 2019. The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time (in months) required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level,” it said.
Nikita Perevalov, Senior Economist with Scotiabank Economics, said Canadian wholesale sales for November is just the latest report in the string of negative data releases that underscored the slowdown of the Canadian economy at the end of 2019.
In a commentary note, she said that with five out of seven subsectors declining, there was considerable breadth to the weakness.
“Geographically, Ontario and Alberta contributed the most to the decline, being among the six provinces that registered lower wholesale sales,” she said.
“On the positive side, a small increase in the machinery and equipment category (+0.8 per cent month-over-month) was a glimmer of hope that investment spending might hold up in the quarter. Mirroring the manufacturing sales report from (Tuesday), wholesale inventories rose in November, interrupting progress on lowering high inventory ratios and a sign of lukewarm demand elsewhere in the economy.”
Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.
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