Manufacturing sales in Canada fell in 2015 for the first time since 2009 as a result of a sharp decline in sales of refined petroleum products, according to Statistics Canada.
For the full year, manufacturing sales declined 1.5 per cent to $609.5 billion, but excluding coal and petroleum products, sales were up 2.6 per cent in 2015.
The big drop resulted from a 28.6 per cent decrease in sales of coal and petroleum products, with the average price of refined petroleum dropping by 22 per cent.
Also in decline were sales of primary metals, machinery and clothing products. Metal prices fell throughout 2015 as commodity markets were hammered by fears that China's growth would slow.
In other sectors there was much better news:
- Sales of motor vehicles rose 9.1 per cent.
- Transportation equipment, up 6.4 per cent.
- Furniture and related products, up 8.9 per cent.
- Food manufacturing, up 2.1 per cent.
- Wood products, up 7.8 per cent.
- Paper products, up 8.1 per cent.
The value of the Canadian dollar played a big role in some of the gains. The low loonie makes Canadian products cheaper.
The depreciation of the Canadian dollar contributed to higher motor vehicle sales in 2015, as vehicles bound for the U.S. were priced in US dollars. A shift in the Ontario auto industry to making higher-priced vehicles also contributed to the increase.
The figures show manufacturing growth is shifting to provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, while Alberta sales fell.
For December, overall manufacturing sales were up 1.2 per cent to $51.6 billion.