U.S. wholesale trade continued to show healthy gains, driven by boosts in metals and minerals sales and inventories that were offset by reductions in both categories for computer equipment, computer peripheral equipment and software, newly released U.S. Census Bureau data show.
The bureau conducts the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey to provide national estimates of monthly sales, end-of-month inventories, and inventories-to-sales ratios by U.S. wholesale firm type. The survey covers wholesale merchants who sell goods on their own account and include such businesses as wholesale merchants or jobbers, industrial distributors, exporters, and importers.
Merchant wholesaler sales in May totaled $453.2 billion, up 0.7 percent from the previous month and by 6.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the bureau data released July 10. April’s revised sales total was $450.2 billion, and sales in May 2013 totaled $425.2 billion.
The totals don’t include manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, but they are adjusted for seasonal variations and trading-day differences but not for price changes, the bureau said in its monthly report. Percentage differences also may appear off because of rounding.
May sales of durable goods, at $206.5 billion, were up 0.2 percent from April’s $206.1 billion, and they represented a 5.9 percent boost from the May 2013 total of $195.1 billion.
Sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum, were up 3.2 percent from April, to $13.7 billion from $13.3 billion, and they represented an 11.3 percent boost from the May 2013 total of $12.3 billion. May computer and computer peripheral equipment and software sales at $22.4 billion were down 1.6 percent from April’s $22.8 billion total but were up 5.5 percent from last May’s $21.3 billion in wholesale sales.
Sales of nondurable goods, at $246.7 billion, rose 1.1 percent from $244 billion in April and were up 7.2 percent from last May’s $230.2 billion total. Sales of farm product raw materials, at $22.9 billion, were up 6.6 percent from $21.5 billion in April and by 6.7 percent from $21.5 billion a year earlier. Sales of apparel, piece goods, and notions were up 2 percent, to $12.7 billion from $12.4 billion in April, while they were up 10.7 percent from May 2013’s $11.5 billion total.
Total inventories of merchant wholesalers, with similar exclusions and adjustments, totaled $532.7 billion at the end of May, up 0.5 percent from the revised $530.1 billion April total and up 7.9 percent from the May 2013 level of $493.9 billion. The April preliminary estimate was revised downward $500 million, or 0.1 percent.
May inventories of durable goods were up 1 percent from April, to $317.9 billion from $324.5 billion and were up 8.5 percent from the May 2013 level of $302.2 billion.
At $28.4 billion, inventories of metals and minerals, except petroleum, in May were up 2.1 percent from April’s $27.8 billion total, and represented a 7.2 percent boost from $26.5 billion in May 2013. Inventories of motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and supplies were up 1.9 percent, to $54.9 billion from $53.9 billion in April and up 10.4 percent from $49.8 billion a year earlier.
At $204.8 billion, inventories of nondurable goods were down 0.3 percent from April’s $205.5 billion total, but were up 6.9 percent from $191.7 billion last May. Inventories of farm product raw materials, at $22.4 billion, were down 3.2 percent from April’s $23.1 billion total, but were up 5.3 percent from $21.2 billion a year earlier. Inventories of petroleum and petroleum products, at $21.1 billion, were up 2 percent from April’s $20.7 billion, and represented a 0.8 percent decline from $21.3 billion in May 2013.
The May inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, again with similar exclusions and adjustments, was 1.18. The May 2013 ratio was 1.16.