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There are a few indicators that are starting to suggest that Alberta’s economy may be recovering from the recession. One of these indicators is wholesale activity.
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ATB Financial's Economics & Research Team February 21, 2017
Wholesale trade shows sign of recovery
There are a few indicators that are starting to suggest that Alberta’s economy may be recovering from the recession. One of these indicators is wholesale activity.
 
The latest report shows that wholesale sales reached nearly $6.35 billion to end out 2016. Total activity saw a third consecutive increase and grew by $141 million in sales or 2.3 per cent from November (this figure is adjusted to account for seasonal variation). Sales to businesses, institutions and governments reached the highest level since the beginning of 2016 and are in line with last year’s levels.
 
Activity from November to December grew in three out of the seven major subsectors. Sales from miscellaneous wholesalers (recyclable materials, paper, paper products and disposable plastic products, etc.) grew the most (+4.0 per cent), Alberta’s second largest wholesaler (food and beverage) also saw sales gains over the course of the month (+2.4 per cent). Finally, sales of machinery, equipment and supplies grew 1.6 per cent from November. Both farm products (-14.6 per cent) and building material and supplies (-15.7 per cent) saw significant sales declines over the month.
 
The latest numbers do suggest that Alberta’s wholesale and retail sectors could perform well in 2017. Statistics Canada notes that preliminary results up to December 2016 (eight months after the start of May’s wildfires) showed that the biggest impact from the Fort McMurray rebuild on wholesale trade has not yet been felt, good news for both wholesale and retail. However, some Albertans could run out of their Employment Insurance benefits, severance packages, savings and/or credit in the coming months which could stall any future growth in wholesale and retail activity. 
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