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Wholesale Trade

Wholesale merchants bridge the gap between manufacturers and retailers. They buy large amounts of goods and distribute them to retailers, businesses, and institutions. These merchants normally operate from a warehouse or office and rarely look for walk-in traffic.

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, the wholesale trade industry made up 4.8% of Alberta's GDP. This represents a 0.2% increase from 2012

Alberta’s GDP
Increase from 2012
  • farm products
  • petroleum products
  • food, beverage, and tobacco products
  • personal and household goods
  • motor vehicles and parts
  • building materials and supplies
  • machinery and equipment

The wholesale trade industry employed 83,700 people in 2016. This is a decrease of 5,800 jobs or 6.5% from 2015.


61,000 men worked in the industry in 2016 (up 100 jobs or 0.2% from 2015)


22,700 women worked in the industry in 2016 (down 5,900 jobs or 20.6% from 2015)

Average Wage
Wholesale Trade
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2016 hourly wage of $22.38 for the wholesale trade industry was below the provincial average of $29.61.
Industry Performance

The value of Alberta wholesale merchant sales reached $7.2 billion in September 2014. They fell to a 5-year low of $5.8 billion in May 2016. Annual figures tell the same story. Wholesale merchant sales dropped from $84.7 billion in 2014 to $79.4 billion in 2015, and down again to $71.8 billion in 2016. However, the March 2017 posting of $6.4 billion in sales indicated a turnaround, which goes along with the gradual recovery of the oil industry.

Industry Outlook

Provided Alberta's construction, manufacturing, and mining sectors recover, the wholesale trade industry is forecast to grow from -0.2% in 2017 to 1.6% in 2018 and 1.9% in 2019. Economists predict a minimum growth of 2.1% annually in the following years. One potential risk to the industry is the growth of e-commerce. Consumers are more willing to compare prices across the industry, and to buy directly from the manufacturer, cutting into the demand for wholesalers.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.5% from 2016 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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