Manufacturing sales rose 2.5% to $70.2 billion in March, on the strength of higher pricing, particularly in the energy and metals industries.
Sales in constant dollars were unchanged in March, indicating that the entire increase in current dollar sales was driven by higher prices as the Industrial Product Price Index rose 4.0%. Quarterly sales in volume terms increased 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022.
Sales of primary metals reached a new record high, rising 6.5% to $5.8 billion in March. All primary metal industries posted higher sales, led by the alumina and aluminum production and processing (+47.9%) and iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy (+21.8%) industries. The gains were driven by higher prices of unwrought aluminum and aluminum alloys (+8.3%) and hot-rolled iron or steel products (+7.6%). The tight global supply of primary metals due to stricter measures in China related to the COVID-19 pandemic and sanctions against Russia due to its aggression in Ukraine led to increases in prices of many primary metals. Despite the month-over-month sales increase, sales on a quarterly basis were down 0.6% in the first quarter of 2022. Sales in real terms edged down 0.2% in March.
While higher pricing for metals poses a challenge for shops, higher sales volumes in March for the motor vehicle (+4.7%), motor vehicle parts (+6.4%) and durable goods (+1.4%) industries were a positive sign. Disappointing, however, was the drop in March sales volumes in the aerospace products and parts (-8.6%), railroad rolling stock (-7.2%), and ship and boat building (-11.7%) industries. Sales in the machinery industry also decreased, falling 4.9% in March following five consecutive month-over-month increases. Despite the decline, however, sales were 6.9% higher on a year-over-year basis in March and rose 3.4% in the first quarter of 2022.
The overall manufacturing sales increase in March was the sixth consecutive monthly increase, Statistics Canada records indicate.
The increase in sales was pretty much across the board with upticks in 16 of the 21 industries tracked by Statistics Canada’s monthly manufacturing survey. On a quarterly basis, sales rose 6.5% in the first quarter of 2022, the seventh consecutive quarterly gain and the largest increase since the third quarter of 2020.