OTTAWA — Canadian manufacturing sales climbed for a third consecutive month in July, but still remained short of pre-pandemic levels of February, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.
The agency said manufacturing sales rose seven per cent to $53.1 billion in July, helped by gains in the motor vehicle and parts sector, however they still remained 5.4 per cent below their pre-pandemic level in February.
Economists had expected an increase of 8.7 per cent for July, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
"While the level of sales remains below where it was in February, the upward trend over the last few months indicates that activity is normalizing," TD Bank senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote in a report.
However Thanabalasingam added that the easiest part of the recovery is over and that the hard part is next.
"Reopening economies and pent-up demand fuelled the increases over the last few months. Going forward, with consumers saving more and businesses more reluctant to invest, manufacturing sales growth will likely weaken," Thanabalasingam wrote.
Manufacturing sales rose in 13 of the 21 industries for July.
Sales in the transportation equipment industry rose by 24.1 per cent in July, boosted by a 32.9 per cent gain in motor vehicle sales as auto manufacturers shortened or skipped their summer shutdowns this year. Sales of motor vehicle parts rose 38.9 per cent.
Higher prices and volumes helped petroleum and coal product sales climb 13 per cent in July, however they were down 39.4 per cent year-over-year. The plastic and rubber product industry sales rose 15.1 per cent.
Food sales fell 1.7 per cent in July due to lower seafood sales.
Statistics Canada said lobster sales were disrupted after the Chinese government enacted new testing measures in June for live and processed lobster imports before they can enter the country.
Manufacturing sales in constant dollars rose 6.1 per cent.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.
The Canadian Press