Mario ToneguzziWholesale sales in Alberta hit the $7-billion mark in July, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported on Monday that sales increased for the third time in five months, up 2.5 per cent in July.

“The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector (+4.9 per cent) contributed the most to the gain. The gain in this subsector was attributable to higher sales reported in the construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies industry,” said StatsCan.

On an annual basis, sales in the industry rose by four per cent in Alberta.

Across Canada, wholesale sales rose for the third time in five months, up 1.5 per cent to $63.9 billion in July, more than offsetting the 0.9 per cent decline in June, said StatsCan.

“Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing approximately 66 per cent of total wholesale sales,” it said.

“The personal and household goods subsector rose for the second consecutive month, up 4.2 per cent to $9.2 billion in July. Sales were up in five of six industries, led by the textile, clothing and footwear, and personal goods industries. In volume terms, sales in the subsector increased 4.6 per cent.

“Following two consecutive months of declines, sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector were up 2.6 per cent to $12.0 billion, mainly on the strength of higher sales in the food industry (+2.4 per cent). The gain in July was partly attributable to an increase in prices as sales in the industry were up 1.6 per cent in volume terms.”

The federal agency said sales increased in six provinces in July, which together represented 97 per cent of total wholesale sales in Canada and  Quebec and Ontario accounted for most of the gain.

Sales in Quebec increased for the third time in four months, up 3.2 per cent to $11.9 billion in July.  Wholesale sales in Ontario rose for the second month in a row, up 1.1 per cent to $32.6 billion in July, on the strength of higher sales in four of seven subsectors.

Nationally, wholesale sales were up 4.1 per cent from a year ago.

Statistics Canada said wholesale inventories increased for the fifth time in seven months, up 1.4 per cent to $87.1 billion in July.

“The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.36 in July. The ratio is a measure of the time in months required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current levels,” it said.

Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

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