Monthly & Annual Retail Trade

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About the Surveys

About Detailed Operating Expense Data


  • To compile statistics on business detailed operating expenses. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this program as part of the Economic Census.


  • Retail Trade (NAICS 44-45)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (NAICS 72)

Previously covered by the predecessor Business Expenses Survey, expenses data coverage of most industries in the service sector as of 2005 is part of the Service Annual Survey. Expenses data for manufacturing, mining, and construction sectors are covered in respective parts of the Economic Census.

Content: All sampled businesses in the BES are asked to provide data on total and detailed operating expenses for the year covered..

Frequency: Every five years coinciding with the collection of the Economic Census (generally years ending in "2" and "7." Reported data are requested for the calendar year. A new sample of businesses is introduced every five years.

Methods: Data for the BES are collected as a supplement to the Annual Surveys of Retail Trade (including Accommodation and Food Services), and Wholesale Trade. These mail-out/mail-back surveys cover about 29,000 retail, accommodation and food services, and merchant wholesale businesses with paid employees. For more information, visit our survey methodology page.

Uses: Business expenses data are used routinely by government agencies, particularly the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis which uses the data for the Nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates and in developing the National Accounts input-output tables. Other users of business expenses data include market researchers, economic analysts, academics and business owners.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Service Sector Statistics Division | Last Revised: September 10, 2015