Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales up in February, wholesale sales down
OTTAWA (CP) – Canadian manufacturing sales rose 4.2 per cent to $67.7 billion in February as auto manufacturers ramped up production even as the industry faced protests blockading the Ambassador Bridge between Canada and the United States as well as an ongoing semiconductor shortage.
Statistics Canada said Thursday manufacturing sales were higher in 14 of 21 industries to make it the fifth consecutive month of gains.
The overall increase came as sales of motor vehicles rose 25.0 per cent to $3.7 billion in February, the highest level since January 2021, even as some highway crossings between Canada and the U.S. were blocked temporarily by those protesting pandemic health restrictions.
Statistics Canada said the blockades contributed to a 5.0 per cent drop in exports of motor vehicles and parts in February.
Paul Ashworth, chief North America economist at Capital Economics, said the February figures were much better than expected even though the blockade at the key Ambassador Bridge border crossing weighed on exports.
“Admittedly, price gains played a role in the nominal sales gain, with producer prices increasing by 3.1 per cent, but sales volumes still increased by a solid 2.2 per cent, more than reversing the Omicron-related dip in January,” Ashworth wrote in a report.
Statistics Canada said the protests impacted about 17.7 per cent of manufacturing plants, with 13.2 per cent reporting disruptions in transportation and 8.3 per cent reporting shortages of raw materials.
In addition to the gain in the motor vehicle sector, sales of food products gained 5.3 per cent on grain and oilseed milling and meat products, while petroleum and coal industry sales rose 6.7 per cent, due in large part to higher prices.
Sales of wood products gained 8.5 per cent at $4.5 billion in February.
Meanwhile in a separate report, Statistics Canada said wholesale sales fell 0.4 per cent in February to $78.8 billion, the first drop since July 2021.
Sales of personal and household goods fell 5.1 per cent in February to $11.4 billion, while building material and supplies wholesalers dropped 2.8 per cent to $13.7 billion.
The motor vehicle and motor vehicle accessories and parts subsector lost 1.9 per cent at $11.0 billion.
In volume terms, sales of wholesale goods sold fell 1.4 per cent in February.