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Manufacturing sales drop in February: StatsCan

Published by Brad Fougere on April 15, 2015

Manufacturing sales report

Recovery delayed: Ontario and Quebec drag down Canadian manufacturing sales in February

Canadian manufacturing sales fell in February, marking the second consecutive monthly decline. However, unlike January, the most recent decrease was not the result of falling oil prices impacting sales revenue for refiners and petrochemical producers, but of sharply lower aerospace and motor vehicle shipments from Ontario and Quebec.

Overall, manufacturing sales fell by 1.7 per cent in February. Compounding the bad news, January’s decline – which also came in at 1.7 per cent a month ago – was revised downward to 3.0 per cent with the release of February’s numbers. For the first two months of the year, shipments are only slightly higher than they were at the same point last year.

February’s decrease in overall sales numbers can be pinned on a weak performance in transportation equipment manufacturing. Sales of motor vehicles and parts fell by 10.4 per cent, while shipments of aerospace vehicles and parts plunged by 25.6 per cent. Excluding those two industry sectors, manufacturing sales rose by just under 1.0 per cent in February.

For its part, petroleum refining – which had been an anchor on Canada’s overall manufacturing sales numbers since the summer – enjoyed a modest reprieve in February. Buoyed by a 7.1 per cent uptick in crude oil prices that month, refinery shipments rose by 5.7 per cent compared to January’s levels. However, refinery sales are still 29.4 per cent lower than they were a year ago. On top of that, the recovery may be short-lived. In March, oil prices fell back to January’s levels and that decrease will likely be reflected in lower refinery sales figures when manufacturing data for March are released.

Aside from petroleum refiners, chemicals producers also enjoyed a good month. Led by potash and other fertilizers, sales of chemical products rose by 8.2 per cent in February.

For most other industries, February was a month of flat sales or moderate declines. Machinery producers saw sales drop by 2.2 per cent, as did manufacturers of computers and electronics. Sales of non-metallic minerals were 3.0 per cent lower. Sales of metal products, forest products, and plastics and rubber were all essentially unchanged.

At the provincial level, sales were sharply lower in Ontario and Quebec – home to most of Canada’s transportation equipment manufacturing sector – while they were higher in nearly every other province. On a dollar-value basis, Ontario sales fell by $655 million in February and Quebec sales by $652 million. The decline in Ontario was equivalent to a 2.8 per cent drop in month-over-month sales, while in Quebec, it represented a 5.3 per cent drop.  In both provinces, February’s monthly sales numbers are the lowest they have been in over a year.

At the other end of the spectrum, BC has been quietly enjoying a mini-boom in manufacturing. Sales in February were up only modestly (1.5 per cent) compared to January, but were nearly 11 per cent higher than they were last February.  Similarly, PEI’s small manufacturing base has been making big gains. Monthly sales were up 12.4 per cent and are nearly 25 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan also posted strong gains in February, with sales growth of 9.2 per cent and 9.3 per cent, respectively. In Manitoba, sales were driven by shipments of transportation equipment and machinery, while potash sales boosted growth in Saskatchewan. For their part, Alberta manufacturers enjoyed a modest bounce back from January’s losses.

Found in: StatsCan

National Office

Alberta British Columbia
Manitoba New Brunswick
Newfoundland & Labrador Nova Scotia
Ontario Québec
Prince Edward Island Saskatchewan