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Vehicles are seen in a parking lot at the General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ont., on June 20, 2018.

Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Canadian wholesale sales edged up 0.3 per cent in August to advance for a fourth consecutive month, though at a much slower pace than in previous months.

Statistics Canada said Monday that wholesale sales were up 0.3 per cent to $65.7 billion in August, boosted by the building material and supplies subsector as well as the auto sector.

The increase compared with a rise of 5.2 per cent in July and 18.5 per cent in June.

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The result for August matched the average expectations of economists, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC, said Canada’s wholesale industry continued its record-setting pace in August.

“We continue to expect that, with the economy continuing to reopen in August, other industries, including retailing, will have posted enough gains for monthly GDP to have risen by roughly one per cent,” Mendes wrote in a report.

Four of seven subsectors increased in August as sales in the building material and supplies subsector rose 7.0 per cent to hit a record high of $9.8 billion.

The motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector grew 2.5 per cent to $10.9 billion, however the subsector remained 7.1 per cent below its pre-pandemic levels.

The gains were offset by a 3.1 per cent drop to $9.6 billion in the personal and household goods subsector, mainly due to lower sales in the pharmaceutical and pharmacy supplies industry.

Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector fell 2.4 per cent to $12.0 billion in August, due to lower sales in the food industry.

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In volume terms, wholesale sales increased 0.1 per cent in August.

Statistics Canada said overall wholesale sales in August were 1.7 per cent above pre-COVID-19 levels.

In addition to the motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and accessories group, Statistics Canada said the food, beverage and tobacco and personal and household goods subsectors were still below their pre-pandemic levels.

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