Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Apr 29, 2019

Wholesale EconomyWholesale sales increased 0.3% to $63.7 billion in February, the third consecutive monthly gain. Higher sales were recorded in two of seven subsectors, led by the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector. Excluding this subsector, wholesale sales declined 1.5%. In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.3%.

Sales increase in two of seven subsectors

In dollar terms, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector reported the largest increase in February, as sales rose 9.5% to $11.6 billion. Sales were up in all three industries, led by the motor vehicle industry (+11.0%) following a 4.4% decline in January.

Sales in the miscellaneous subsector rose 0.5% to $8.5 billion in February, entirely on the strength of sales in the other miscellaneous industry (+7.8%).

Following two consecutive monthly gains, the building material and supplies subsector decreased 5.3% to $8.8 billion, the lowest level since January 2018. Declines were recorded in two of three industries, led by the lumber, millwork, hardware and other building supplies industry (-10.2%).

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector declined for the third time in four months, down 1.3% to $13.1 billion in February. Three of the subsector's four industries decreased in February, accounting for approximately 70% of the subsector's sales. In dollar terms, the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry (-2.4%) contributed the most to the decrease.

Sales up in two provinces

In February, wholesale sales increased in Ontario and Saskatchewan. In dollar terms, Ontario accounted for most of the gain.

Wholesale sales increased for the third consecutive month in Ontario, up 2.1% to $33.1 billion. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, led by the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector (+11.5% to $8.1 billion), its third increase in four months. Sales were also up in the machinery, equipment and supplies (+1.1% to $6.9 billion) and the food, beverage and tobacco (+0.8% to $4.9 billion) subsectors.

In Saskatchewan, sales increased for the third time in four months, up 7.5% to $2.4 billion. Higher sales in the miscellaneous subsector (+23.0% to $1.1 billion) offset declines reported in others.

In dollar terms, Alberta recorded the largest decline in February, with sales down 3.4% to $6.6 billion. This was the first decrease in three months and the lowest level since August 2017. Sales were down in six subsectors, led by the building material and supplies (-7.5% to $1.0 billion) and the machinery, equipment and supplies (-2.6% to $2.0 billion) subsectors.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector led declines in British Columbia, where sales decreased 3.4% to $6.3 billion. The subsector declined for the third consecutive month, down 8.1% to $1.0 billion in February. The miscellaneous (-8.5% to $713 million) and the food, beverage and tobacco (-3.8% to $1.4 billion) subsectors also contributed to lower sales in the province.

Sales in Quebec decreased for the third time in four months, down 0.5% to $11.9 billion. The food, beverage and tobacco (-2.2% to $3.0 billion) and the building material and supplies (-2.7% to $1.9 billion) subsectors contributed the most to the decrease in February. Despite the recent declines, wholesale sales in Quebec were up 4.3% year over year.

Inventories edge down

Following five consecutive monthly increases, wholesale inventories edged down 0.1% to $90.7 billion in February. Inventories were down in four of seven subsectors, representing about 58% of total wholesale inventories.

Inventories in the miscellaneous subsector decreased 2.5% in February, representing the largest decline in dollar terms. Four of five industries within this subsector decreased, with the agricultural supplies industry (-2.9%) representing the largest decline.

For the second consecutive month, inventories in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (-0.8%) declined. The other machinery, equipment and supplies industry fell 2.4%, the largest decrease of the subsector.

Inventories in the personal and household goods subsector (+2.0%) increased for the fourth consecutive month. Five of six industries within this subsector increased, led by the textile, clothing and footwear industry.

The inventory-to-sales ratio fell slightly from 1.43 in January to 1.42 in February. This ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Source: Statistics Canada,


Rick McCartenBy Rick McCarten

What how much does the electrical industry have to improve to complete with upcoming disruptions in the supply chain?

In May of this year, the delegates at Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s annual conference voted on when our industry would be hit with supply chain disruption. The group collectively agreed that our industry in Canada has only three years to prepare for major disruption. We need to act fast!



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David GordonBy David Gordon

The rep alignment dilemma… whom to align with to generate sales? End-users? National chains? Independent supportive distributors? Any distributor who will support the manufacturer? The manufacturer? But, the bottom line becomes, what will generate sales to meet manufacturer expectations?

It’s complicated, and channel consolidation and channel diversification will make this more complicated.


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Stephanie MedeirosBy Blake Marchand

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After receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University, Medeiros got her start in the industry by volunteering with the Canadian government as an electrical engineering intern, where she travelled to Peru to help improve their water treatment infrastructure. 

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Wholesale SalesWholesale sales rose 0.6% to $64.1 billion in June, partly offsetting the 1.9% decline in May. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing 54% of total wholesale sales.

In dollar terms, two subsectors — miscellaneous, and machinery, equipment and supplies — contributed the most to the increase in June, while the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector posted the largest decline.




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Investment In Building ConstructionTotal investment in building construction decreased 0.9% in June to $15.1 billion, the first decline in eight months. A slight increase in non-residential investment (+1.0% to $4.8 billion) was offset by a decrease in the residential sector (-1.8% to $10.3 billion). On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction decreased 1.1% to $12.7 billion. Despite the monthly decrease, total investment grew 1.6% year over year in the second quarter.




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Changing Scene

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Peers & Profiles

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“I was definitely able to learn the different roles, and understand all the different aspects of the business,” she said, “starting so young, I really had to put in my time to be able to move up.”


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Louis BeaulieuBy Line Goyette

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When I ask him if, as is often the case in a family business, he had always known that he was going to join the company, he replied, “Not at all. When I was young, I spent my school holidays at my older brother’s farm at Ile d’Orléans.

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