Ottawa, ON — Building materials sales rose 8.7 per cent in April to $3.1 billion—the highest level on record, according to reports by Statistics Canada. The demand for housing and home renovations has generated an increase in the volume of building materials and supplies sold.
In April, sales of building materials and supplies were 26.5 per cent higher compared to December 2020. The number of new housing starts fells in both Canada and the United States in April; however, it should be noted that there are usually several months lag between the start of a new home build and the use of lumber. Softwood lumber remains the largest component of the building material and supplies subsector. It saw the price increase 10.1 per cent and was 169.4 per cent higher than April 2020, according to the Industrial Product Price Index. Exports of lumber and sawmill products rose 7.8 per cent in April, largely to meet the demand of American home builders.
Overall, sales by Canadian wholesalers rose 0.4 per cent in April to $71.5 billion, the third increase in the past four months, reports Statistics Canada. Wholesale volumes fell 0.2 per cent during the month. Seven provinces and one territory reported sales rising in April, representing 45 per cent of national wholesale sales.
The largest increase was in Alberta, where wholesale reported $7.6 billion in sales, 5.3 per cent more than in March. The building material and supplies wholesalers reported the largest growth in sales (up 20.5 per cent to $1.5 billion). Residential building permits in Alberta increased by 15.4 per cent.
Although wholesale sales were higher in April overall, the largest change was in Ontario, where sales were 1.9 per cent lower (down $678.1 million), for a total of $35.1 billion. Lower sales in Ontario accounted for more than 90 per cent of the month-over-month change for all provinces that had lower sales in April.
Ontario’s decline largely reverses the provinces in 2021 so far, as monthly sales have dropped to within $100 million of December 2020’s levels. Half of the decrease in Ontario was caused by lower sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector, which was affected by the ongoing semiconductor shortage. The largest increase in sales in Ontario was reported in the building material and supplies subsector, which report a 5.3 per cent rise in sales with growth in all three industries.
The largest increase in inventories came from the building material and supplies subsector. This was the largest inventory value on record and marked the seventh consecutive increase as there continued to be high demand for building materials.
The lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry contributed half of the increase—This marked the fourth consecutive record-breaking month for the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry.