hand pulling financial business graph to high growth rate
Dusit Panyakhom / 123RF

Canadian wholesale and manufacturing sales in both climbed higher in March after pulling back in February.

Statistics Canada said Friday manufacturing sales hit their highest level since June 2019 as they climbed 3.5% to $57.8 billion in March.

The gains came as the auto industry temporarily ramped up production despite a the global semiconductor shortage. Motor vehicle sales rose 10.5% and motor vehicle parts climbed 7.7%.

However, Statistics Canada said that the semiconductor shortage is expected to continue and some auto manufacturers have announced plans to reduce output in some assembly plans in Ontario.

Petroleum and coal products industry sales gained 6.2%, while food manufacturing sales increased 2.7% to a record high in March.

CIBC senior Royce Mendes said factories and warehouses were buzzing again in March.

“The good news is that the increase in March factory sales was relatively broad based, with 17 of 21 industries gaining ground, so not overly reliant on the pickup in motor vehicle production,” Mendes wrote in a report.

In volume terms, manufacturing sales were up 2.3%.

Meanwhile, Canadian wholesale sales rose 2.8% to $70.9 billion in March to post their second increase in three months.

Sales of building materials and supplies rose 11.3%.

Statistics Canada says the subsector has been the strongest component of wholesale trade in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic, as demand for new homes and home improvements has increased.

Sales in the miscellaneous subsector gained 3.1% in March, while motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and accessories sales fell 0.3%. Farm products lost 1.6%.

Wholesale sales volumes were up 1.9%.