OTTAWA (CP) -- Manufacturing sales fell six percent to $38.4 billion in May, the lowest level since November 1998.
Statistics Canada reports plant shutdowns in the motor vehicle and primary metal industries, along with continued volatility in the aerospace industry, accounted for most of the decline in May.
The agency says constant-dollar manufacturing sales fell 5.8 percent in May, indicating that lower volumes rather than price changes were behind the decrease in sales.
Sales dropped in 17 of 21 manufacturing industries, accounting for about three-quarters of total sales.
The transportation equipment industry led the declines, falling 25.7 percent compared with April.
Excluding the transportation equipment industry, total Canadian manufacturing sales decreased 2.1 percent.
Motor vehicle manufacturing sales dropped 25.4 percent on the back of several plant shutdowns. Motor vehicle parts manufacturing fell 22.2 percent, reflecting a decrease in demand from vehicle assembly plants.
Production in the aerospace industry decreased by $781 million, reversing a similar-sized increase in April. The aerospace products and parts industry has been extremely volatile over the past several months.
Primary metal manufacturers reported a nine percent decrease in sales for May, a reflection of plant shutdowns, lower prices and weak market demand.
Other large declines came in miscellaneous manufacturers (down 13.7 percent), machinery manufacturers (down six), fabricated metal products (down 3.5), and food (down 2.9).
The petroleum and coal products industry was the main offsetting industry as sales rose 6.2 percent.