US Wholesale Inventories Up, Sales Growing Faster

US Wholesale Inventories Up, Sales Growing Faster

U.S. wholesalers’ inventories rose for the 15th straight month in March but sales grew even faster, signaling that companies will continue to add to stockpiles to meet demand.

The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 1.1 percent in March. Wholesale sales increased 2.9 percent, reaching their highest level since June 2008, and have risen in eight of the last nine months.

By the Numbers:
U.S. Retail Inventory to Sales Ratio.

The trend is a positive sign for manufacturers and freight transportation demand. The Association of American Railroads said Monday that intermodal traffic rose 9 percent in April, or 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. Carload traffic fell 0.2 percent or a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent, due largely to a drop in coal traffic.

The Commerce Department said wholesalers’ inventory-to-sales ratio dropped to 1.13 in March, meaning at current levels wholesalers are carrying 1.13 months of inventory. That matches the figure for June 2008, the lowest on records dating from 1992.

The inventory-to-sales ratio for wholesalers’ stockpiles of durable goods fell to 1.46, the lowest since 2004. Wholesalers’ inventories of durable goods, those meant to last at least three years, rose 0.4 percent in March while sales increased 2.3 percent.

-- Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @josephbonney.