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Building materials contributed to wholesale sales growth for August

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Wholesale sales grew for a fourth consecutive month in August, though at a much slower pace compared with the previous three months, reports Statistics Canada. Higher sales in the building material and supplies, and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsectors were leading contributors to sales edging up 0.3 per cent to $65.7 billion in August after growing 5.2 per cent in July.

After growing for the fourth consecutive month, wholesale sales in August were 1.7 per cent above pre-COVID-19 levels. Four subsectors reported shipments in August that were higher than in February 2020, led by building material and supply sales, and miscellaneous goods.

Sales in the building material and supplies subsector reached a record high level of $9.8 billion. The increase was mainly due to stronger activity in the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry which grew 12.2 per cent to $5.5 billion. Rising sales reflected higher exports of lumber and other sawmill products and forestry products and building and packaging materials.

British Columbia saw sales rise 4.7 per cent to $6.7 billion in August, a record level for the province. Building material and supplies subsector reached a new record high and reported the highest gain (up 10.9 per cent to $1.9 billion).

For Quebec, sales increased by 1.2 per cent to $12.4 billion, also a record level for the province. The building materials and supplies subsector saw an increase of 7.5 per cent to $2.1 billion.

The inventory-to-sales ration remained unchanged at 1.37 per cent from July to August. This was the lowest level since August 2018. The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

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