Manufacturing sales see largest-ever drop in April: StatCan
The April decline was much deeper than many analysts had been expecting.
Manufacturing sales fell by a record amount in April, the first full month of physical distancing measures in the wake of COVID-19, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.
The agency said manufacturing sales fell 28.5% to $36.4 billion in April, following a 9.8% decline in March when the pandemic first began to take hold.
Economists on average had expected a decline of 20.0%, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Sales were down in all 21 industries, led by the transportation equipment and petroleum and coal product industries.
Sales in the transportation equipment industry fell by 76.4% to $1.9 billion in April, the largest drop on record, as Canadian vehicle assembly plants stopped operations, while the petroleum and coal product industry sales dropped by a record 46.4% to $2.0 billion.
Large declines were also reported by the fabricated metal product (-26.1%), plastic and rubber (-31.0%), primary metal (-16.4%), machinery (-16.4%) and wood product (-19.0%) industries.
Manufacturing sales were down in every province in April. However, Ontario and Quebec accounted for over four-fifths (-81.0%) of the national decline. Manufacturing sales in Ontario fell by a record 37.1% to $14.0 billion. Sales declined in all 21 industries, led by the motor vehicle (-98.9%), motor vehicle parts (-90.6%), primary metal (-32.0%) petroleum and coal product (-47.7%), food (-10.8%) and plastic and rubber product (-34.9%) industries. Sales were down in Quebec for the third consecutive month, falling by a record 26.7% to $9.6 billion in April.
Manufacturing sales in volume terms fell by a record 26.0%.
Looking ahead, the agency was cautiously optimistic. “During the second week of May, many manufacturers resumed production after full or partial shutdowns in April,” it said. “Provinces and territories started a phased reopening of non-essential businesses in May, by easing restrictions on capacity (number of customers), or by requiring mask-wearing where physical distancing is not possible, which is expected to bolster sales compared with April.”