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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

Statistics Canada says wholesale trade fell in December for the first time since April amid sharply lower auto sales.

The agency says wholesale sales were down 1.3 per cent in December at $66.5 billion, marking the first monthly decline after seven consecutive increases.

Vehicles are one of the largest categories of wholesale trade, and Statistics Canada say auto sales, as well as car and truck parts and accessories, were down 4.3 per cent to $10.7 billion, the lowest level since July.

Despite the monthly dip, Statistics Canada says that wholesale trade was still up compared with the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020, amid a 12.2 per cent surge in sales of building materials and supplies.

Several provincial governments tightened business restrictions in December to curtail rising COVID-19 case counts – but Statistics Canada says December’s drop in wholesale sales was within the normal range.

The agency says Ontario and British Columbia posted the largest drop in monthly wholesale sales.

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