Retail and Services Area Survey

Skip top of page navigation
You are here: About the SurveysMulti-Sector Programs › Business and Professional Classification Survey

Discontinued in 1993


Collected data and produced estimates for businesses otherwise not represented in list sample-based surveys of retail and service businesses. The United States Code, Title 13, authorized this survey and provided for voluntary responses.


Nonemployers, new employers, and other businesses eligible for coverage in monthly retail or annual service industry surveys but not included in lists used to draw the initial samples for those surveys.


Data collected included sales and inventories for retail businesses and receipts for service businesses.


Monthly from 1951 through August 1993; retail firms were contacted and reported data for the previous month. Service establishments were contacted each December, January, and February and reported data for the prior year. The sample of land areas within large metropolitan areas was drawn periodically and the sample of other areas was drawn in 1953.


Personal enumeration of selected land areas; all establishments within scope were enumerated. The area sample was a multistage sample. In the first stage, the 12 largest metropolitan areas were selected with certainty and 47 other primary sampling units (PSU) consisting of single counties or small groups of contiguous counties were drawn with probability proportional to population size. In succeeding stages, small land segments were selected in each PSU and each segment was divided into 6 or 12 area panels to be used in different months on a rotating basis.

All retail establishments within a selected panel were canvassed each month. All service establishments were canvassed in December, January, and February. The firm's Employer Identification Number (EIN) and classification information were gathered during the first personal interview and a form was left with respondents to obtain data not available at the interview. After the initial visit, firms in an area were typically visited once or twice a year using forms preprinted from previously reported data to minimize reporting burden. Annually, about 39,000 businesses were canvassed.

Data were tabulated from firms determined to be within the scope of the current surveys, and not covered by the mail survey. In-scope firms included nonemployers, firms with new EINs, and firms erroneously omitted from the current survey list samples. Data from about 9,000 firms picked up in the area survey were used in the current surveys each year. In addition, businesses from the prior month`s canvass which exceeded specified cutoffs for sales or inventories were mailed a form requesting an additional month's data in order to improve estimates.


Estimates from this survey were tabulated in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey, which includes inventories. In addition, some firms identified in this survey were added to the mail survey portions of the Annual Retail Trade Survey, Service Annual Survey, and the Advance Monthly Retail Sales Survey.


Area survey data contributed to the current retail and services surveys. The Bureau of Economic Analysis incorporates these survey measures of consumer spending and inventory in its calculation of the national income and product accounts.


Ensured complete coverage for key retail and service industry surveys and provided the only monthly measure of retail sales or receipts and inventories for nonemployers. Since discontinuation, added coverage is based on data from administrative records and imputations.


Advance Monthly Retail Sales Survey

Monthly Retail Trade Survey

Annual Retail Trade Survey

Service Annual Survey




Next Program

U.S. Economy

Economy Overview