U.S. wholesale inventories fell in March, albeit less than initially estimated, and further decreases are likely as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to weigh on imports of goods.
The Commerce Department said on Friday that wholesale inventories dropped 0.8% in March instead of declining 1.0% as reported last month. Stocks at wholesalers fell 0.7% in February. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product dropped 1.3% in March.
Goods imports decreased in March to their lowest since August 2017, the government reported last week. A drawdown of inventories contributed to gross domestic product declining at a 4.8% annualized rate in the first quarter, the sharpest pace of contraction since the 2007-09 Great Recession.
Sales at wholesalers tumbled 5.2% in March after falling 0.7% in February. At March’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.37 months to clear shelves, up from 1.31 months in February.