The Retail Trade sector (sector 44-45) comprises establishments engaged in retailing merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise.
The retailing process is the final step in the distribution of merchandise; retailers are, therefore, organized to sell merchandise in small quantities to the general public. This sector comprises two main types of retailers: store and nonstore retailers.
Store retailers operate fixed point-of-sale locations, located and designed to attract a high volume of walk-in customers. In general, retail stores have extensive displays of merchandise and use mass-media advertising to attract customers. They typically sell merchandise to the general public for personal or household consumption, but some also serve business and institutional clients. In addition to retailing merchandise, some types of store retailers are also engaged in the provision of after-sales services, such as repair and installation. As a general rule, establishments engaged in retailing merchandise and providing after-sales services are classified here.
Nonstore retailers, like store retailers, are organized to serve the general public, but their retailing methods differ. The establishments of this subsector reach customers and market merchandise with methods such as the broadcasting of "infomercials," the broadcasting and publishing of direct-response advertising, the publishing of paper and electronic catalogs, door-to-door solicitation, in-home demonstration, selling from portable stalls (street vendors, except food), and distribution through vending machines. Establishments engaged in the direct sale (nonstore) of products, such as home heating oil dealers and home delivery newspaper routes, are classified here.
Excluded from this sector are governmental organizations classified in the covered industries except for liquor stores operated by state and local governments. Data for direct sellers with no paid employees and post exchanges, ship stores, and similar establishments operated on military posts by agencies of the Federal Government are not included. The basic tabulations in this report do not include data for establishments which are auxiliary (primary function is providing a service, such as warehouses) to retail establishments within the same organization.