Wholesale sales in September fall by 0.1 per cent to $55.2 billion

OTTAWA – Wholesale sales were below expectations in September, declining 0.1 per cent to $55.2 billion.

Statistics Canada said Thursday the drop came due to lower sales in the motor vehicle and parts and the building material and supplies subsectors.

Economists had expected a gain of 0.3 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

CIBC economist Nick Exarhos called the result another indicator suggesting an anemic end to the third quarter.

“Disappointing manufacturing results earlier in the week suggested that there were downside risks to both our own and the street’s forecasts for today’s wholesale figures, and the numbers released this morning more or less confirmed those fears,” Exarhos said.

In volume terms, wholesale sales fell 0.4 per cent in September.

The Canadian economy has struggled this year in the wake of the drop in oil prices and contracted in the first two quarters.

Economists have suggested that the third quarter will show growth, but they have also raised concerns about the strength of that growth.

In its latest monetary policy report, the Bank of Canada predicted growth in the third quarter would come in at an annual pace of 2.5 per cent, but the central bank expected that to slow to 1.5 per cent for the fourth quarter.

The wholesale sales report Thursday found that the motor vehicle and parts subsector fell 3.0 per cent to $9.8 billion in September as the industry saw lower imports and exports as well as lower sales by auto assembly plants.

Excluding the motor vehicle and parts subsector, overall wholesale sales rose 0.5 per cent.

Other sectors showing weakness included the building material and supplies subsector, which saw sales drop 2.1 per cent to $7.5 billion, its lowest level in seven months.

The personal and household goods subsector edged down 0.1 per cent to $7.8 billion.

Offsetting some of the weakness, sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector rose 1.7 per cent to $11.2 billion in September, while the food, beverage and tobacco subsector rose 1.6 per cent to $10.9 billion.

Wholesale sales were down in five provinces, with Alberta and British Columbia the largest contributors to the decline.