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Monthly & Annual Retail Trade

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Definitions

  • Accounts Receivable Balances - Retail accounts receivable are amounts owed to retail stores by their customers for purchases made on credit. The estimate in this publication refer to receivables outstanding as of December 31, including receivables against which the firm has borrowed. However, credit paper discounted or sold to others and amounts actually written off as bad debts are excluded. Also excluded are amounts charged on credit cards issued by oil companies, banks, and other organizations that issue credit cards. Charge accounts are credit accounts for which full payment is scheduled to be made at the end of the customary billing period. Installment accounts are classified as open-end or closed-end.
    • Open-end installment accounts are primarily revolving or optional accounts. A deferred payment privilege is extended through a line of credit, and the customer has the option of paying the balance in full or paying in two or more installments. The payments are subject to a minimum required payment with a finance charge usually assessed.
    • Closed-end installment accounts are those generally requiring a new contract to cover each extension of credit. A precomputed finance charge is assessed at the time credit is extended. Specified fixed schedules of installment payments are established with the number, the amount of payments, and the due dates specified in the contract.
  • Adjustment Factors - The X-12 ARIMA program was used to derive the factors for adjusting estimates for seasonal variations and, in the case of sales, for trading-day and holiday differences. Non-adjusted sales and inventory estimates for January 1992 through February or March 20081 (if an advance sales estimate was computed) were input to this program.

    Seasonal adjustment of estimates is an approximation based on current and past experiences. Therefore, the adjustment could become less precise because of changes in economic conditions and other elements that introduce significant changes in seasonal, trading-day, or holiday patterns.
  • Advance Monthly Retail Trade Survey - The Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services provides early estimates of monthly sales for companies in the retail trade and food services sectors. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and provides for voluntary responses. This survey covers retail companies with one or more establishments that sell merchandise and related services to final consumers. These firms provide data on dollar value of retail sales for selected establishments.
  • Annual Retail Trade Survey - A mandatory annual survey which collects sales, inventory, purchases, accounts receivable, and expenses data from firms primarily engaged in retail trade and accommodation and food services.
  • ARTS - See 'Annual Retail Trade Survey'.
  • Auxiliary Facilities - Also known as enterprise support units of a reporting company, these are primarily engaged in furnishing supporting services to the company's operating units, such as warehouses, central administrative offices, garages, and repair services.
  • Calendar Month Reporter - A firm that closes their books on the last day of each month, or on the same date each month (e.g., the 28th).
  • Capitalized Expenses - Also known as capital expenditures, this includes all expenditures during the year for both new and used structures and equipment chargeable to asset accounts for which depreciation or amortization accounts are ordinarily maintained. Also included are capitalized leasehold improvements and capitalized interest charges on loans used to finance capital projects.
  • Confidentiality - Title 13 of the United States Code authorizes the Census Bureau to conduct censuses and surveys. Section 9 of the same Title requires that any information collected from the public under the authority of Title 13 be maintained as confidential. Section 214 of Title 13 and Sections 3559 and 3571 of Title 18 of the United States Code provide for the imposition of penalties of up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines for wrongful disclosure of confidential census information. In accordance with Title 13, no estimates are published that would disclose the operations of an individual firm.

    The Census Bureau's Internal Disclosure Review board sets the confidentiality rules for all data releases. A checklist approach is used to ensure that all potential risks to the confidentiality of the data are considered and addressed.
  • Cost of Goods Sold - Beginning inventory plus purchases of goods for resale minus ending inventory.
  • Data Month - The month for which data are being requested.
  • Disclosure Limitation - A disclosure of data occurs when an individual can use published statistical information to identify either an individual or firm that has provided information under a pledge of confidentiality. Disclosure limitation is the process used to protect the confidentiality of the survey data provided by an individual or firm. Using disclosure limitation procedures, the Census Bureau modifies or removes the characteristics that put confidential information at risk for disclosure. Although it may appear that a table shows information about a specific individual or business, the Census Bureau has taken steps to disguise or suppress the original data, while making sure the results are still useful. The techniques used by the Census Bureau to protect confidentiality in tabulations vary, depending on the type of data.
  • Dollar Values - All dollar values presented are expressed in current dollars; that is, the estimates are not adjusted to a constant dollar series. Consequently, when comparing estimates to prior years, users also should consider price level changes.
  • Drop Ship - When a manufacturer drops a shipment off at a customer's site, although a retailer makes the sale.
  • E-Commerce - The sale of goods and services where the buyer places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over an Electronic Data Interchange, the Internet, or any other online system (extranet, e-mail, instant messaging). Payment may or may not be made online.
  • EDI - See 'Electronic Data Interchange'
  • EIN - See 'Employer Identification Number'.
  • Electronic Data Interchange - The exchange of documents in standardized electronic form between parties in an automated manner directly from one party's computer system to an application in another.
  • Employer Identification Number - A nine-digit number used by the Internal Revenue Service for any legal entity that is required to file a federal tax return.
  • Establishment - A single physical location where business is conducted, or where services are performed.
  • Expenses - See 'Total operating expenses'.
  • Firm - A business organization or entity consisting of one or more domestic establishment locations under common ownership or control.
  • GAFO - GAFO represents sales at stores that sell merchandise normally sold in department stores. GAFO includes the following kinds of retail businesses:
    • General merchandise stores (NAICS 452).
    • Clothing and clothing accessories stores (NAICS 448).
    • Furniture and home furnishings stores (NAICS 442).
    • Electronics and appliance stores (NAICS 443).
    • Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (NAICS 451).
    • Office supplies, stationery, and gift stores (NAICS 4532).
  • Gross Margin - The measure of gross margin represents total sales less cost of goods sold.
  • Imputation - The procedure for determining a value for a specific data item where the response is missing or unusable.
  • Interest Expense - Interest expense incurred in the financing of operations and long lived assets used in continuing operations, and excludes transfers made within the company and capitalized interest. For kinds of business covered in this survey, interest is not considered a type of operating expense.
  • Inventories - Merchandise inventories are the value of stocks of goods held for sale. The inventories estimates represent the value, at cost, of the merchandise available for sale as of the last day of the report period. Methods of valuation may vary according to the accounting practices of each firm. The estimates provided in this report are valued on a non-LIFO (last in, first out) basis. Note — LIFO is a method of valuing inventory where the latest items of merchandise added to the inventory are the first ones taken out. Non-LIFO would mean that another method, such as FIFO (first in, first out), was used to establish the value of the inventory available for sale. Merchandise inventories are shown for stores and warehouses servicing retail establishments. Included are only those warehouses that maintained supplies of merchandise primarily intended for distribution within the organization.
  • Inventories / Sales Ratios - The inventories / sales ratios show the relationship of the end-of-month values of inventory to the monthly sales. These ratios can be looked at as indications of the number of months of inventory that are on hand in relation to the sales for a month. For example, a ratio of 2.5 would indicate that the retail stores have enough merchandise on hand to cover two and a half months of sales.
  • KB - See 'Kind of Business'.
  • Kind of Business - The principal kind of business being conducted at an establishment.
  • Leased Department - Leased departments are broadly defined as operations of one company conducted within the establishment of another company. Typical examples may include jewelry counters or optical centers within department stores.
  • MARTS - See 'Advance Monthly Retail Trade Survey'
  • Monthly Retail Trade Survey - The Monthly Retail Trade Survey provides current estimates of sales at retail and food services stores and inventories held by retail stores. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and provides for voluntary responses. This survey covers retail companies with one or more establishments that sell merchandise and related services to final consumers. Retail firms provide data on dollar value of retail sales and sales for selected establishments; some firms also provide data on value of end-of-month inventories.
  • MRTS - See 'Monthly Retail Trade Survey'.
  • Multi-unit Firms - Firms with two or more establishments.
  • Nonsampling Error - The nonsampling error of an estimate based on a sample survey encompasses all factors other than sampling error that contribute to the total error of the estimate. This error may also be present in censuses and may be attributed to many sources: inability to obtain information on all units in the sample; response errors; differences in the interpretation of the questions; mistakes in coding or keying the data obtained; and other errors of collection, response, coverage, and processing. Although no direct measurement of the potential biases due to nonsampling error was obtained, precautionary steps were taken in all phases of the collection, processing, and tabulation of the data in an effort to minimize their influence. The Census Bureau recommends that individuals using retail estimates incorporate this information into their analyses, as nonsampling error could affect the conclusions drawn from the estimates.
  • Previous Month - The month that precedes the data month.
  • Privacy Act - A 1974 Federal Act that protects the privacy of personal information that the government has on file. The act places restrictions on the collection, use, maintenance, and release of information about individuals.
  • Purchases - Total cost of all merchandise purchased for resale to customers net of returns, allowances, and trade and cash discounts.
  • Retailer - Businesses that sell goods in small quantities directly to consumers.
  • Reporting Unit - Subsidiaries, divisions or other operating units of the EIN or company sampling unit separately identified on the database for purposes of collecting data from each individual part. If all data for a sampling unit are obtained from one location, the sampling and reporting unit records are equivalent.
  • Sales - Sales include merchandise sold (for cash or credit at retail or wholesale) by establishments primarily engaged in retail trade. Services that are incidental to the sale of merchandise, and excise taxes that are paid by the manufacturer or wholesaler and passed along to the retailer are also included. Sales are net, after deductions, of refunds and allowances for merchandise returned by customers. Sales exclude sales taxes collected directly from customers and paid directly to a local, state, or federal tax agency.

    The estimates of sales measure the operations receipts rendered by stores that primarily sell at retail. The sales estimates represent total sales and receipts of all establishments primarily engaged in retail trade. They do not include sales at retail by manufacturers, wholesalers, service establishments, and others whose primary activity is other than retail trade. Because the retail establishment is the basic unit of measure, the published estimates of sales by type of retail store are not intended to measure the total sales for a given commodity or merchandise line.
  • Sales Tax - A tax collected by retailers and certain service providers when they make taxable retail sales. Sales taxes could include state, county and local taxes. Sales taxes exclude excise taxes and occupancy taxes for accommodation industry.
  • Sample - All firms selected for a specific survey.
  • Sampling Error - The sampling error of an estimate based on a sample survey is the difference between the estimate and the result that would be obtained from a complete census conducted under the same survey conditions. This error occurs because characteristics differ among sampling units in the population and only a subset of the population is measured in a sample survey. The particular sample used in this survey is one of a large number of samples of the same size that could have been selected using the same design. Because each unit in the sampling frame had a known probability of being selected into the sample, it was possible to estimate the sampling variability of the survey estimates. The Census Bureau recommends that individuals using retail estimates incorporate this information into their analyses, as sampling error could affect the conclusions drawn from the estimates.
  • Title 13 - Title 13 is the legal authority for the Census Bureau's programs. The Census Bureau's authority is founded on the United States Constitution and Title 13. The data collected by the Census Bureau, the leading source of quality data about the nation's economy and people, provide for the foundation on which our democratic system of government is based. To fulfill its mission, the Census Bureau must collect quality data and distribute it in a way that preserves usefulness while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
  • Title 26 - Title 26 Internal Revenue Code provides for the conditions under which the Internal Revenue Service may disclose Federal Tax Returns and Return Information (FTI) to other agencies. Specifically, 26, U.S.C. 6103 (j) (1) provides for the disclosure of FTI to the Census Bureau for statistical purposes in the structuring of censuses and national economic accounts, as well as for conducting related statistical activities authorized by law.
  • Total Error Statement - The total error of an estimate based on a sample survey is the difference between the estimate and the true population value that it estimates. The true population value is usually unknown.
  • Total Operating Expenses - The sum of detailed types of expenses. It excludes cost of goods sold; income, sales, and excise taxes; capital expenditures; funds invested; and interest expense. The detailed expenses are listed below:
    • All Other Operating Expenses - Operating expenses not reported elsewhere, such as bank card charges, motor fuel, and travel expense. Excluded are purchase of products for resale (cost of goods sold); bad debt; transfers made within the company; capitalized expenses; interest; impairment; income, sales, and excise taxes; and other non-operating expenses.
    • Annual Payroll - The gross earnings of all employees paid during the calendar year (cash basis). It includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in kind, prior to such deductions as employees' social security contributions, withholding taxes, group insurance, union dues, and savings bonds. The total includes salaries of officers of corporations; it excludes payments to proprietors or partners of unincorporated concerns. The Census definition of payroll is identical to that recommended to all Federal statistical agencies by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, in particular, the definition used on the Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, Treasury Form 941. This definition does not include employers' social security contributions or other nonpayroll labor costs, such as employees' pension plans, group insurance premiums, and workers' compensation. Data presented on annual payroll are sample-based and include payroll of enterprise support locations, such as retail warehouses and central administrative offices, and thus may not match payroll data compiled in the 2007 Economic Census.
    • Commissions - Commissions paid to other firms or independent contractors, including payments by wholesalers to other firms for commissioned sale of merchandise. This item excludes commissions paid to the firm's own employees (included in payroll) and commissions paid by wholesale agents and brokers.
    • Contract Temporary Staff and Leased Employee Expense - Payments to other firms for the contractual use of their employees. These employees are supplied by other firms to perform specific jobs, and include temporary help and leased employees. Day-to-day supervision is provided by the purchasing firm. For example, contractual costs for security and janitorial personnel are excluded if supervised by the supplying firms, but are included in data compiled on other operating expenses.
    • Data Processing and Other Purchased Computer Services - Computer facilities management services, computer input preparation, data storage, computer time rental, optical scanning services, and other computer-related advice and services, including training
    • Depreciation and Amortization Charges - Depreciation charged against tangible assets owned and used by a firm, tangible assets and improvements owned by a firm within leaseholds, and tangible assets obtained through capital lease agreements. This item also includes amortization charges against intangible assets (i.e., goodwill, patents, copyrights, etc.). Excluded from this item is accumulated depreciation.
    • Employer's Cost for Fringe Benefits - Expenditures made by the employer for legally required and voluntary fringe benefit programs for employees. Legally required fringe benefits includes all programs required under Federal and State legislation such as FICA, unemployment tax, workers' compensation, and state disability payments. Voluntary fringe benefits includes programs not specifically required by Federal or State legislation, such as life and health insurance premiums for employees; costs incurred under defined contribution plans such as profit sharing; and costs incurred for both qualified and unqualified defined pension plans.
    • Expensed Purchases of Software - Purchases of prepackaged, custom coded, or vendor customized software including software developed or customized by others, web design services and purchases, licensing agreements, upgrades of software; and maintenance fees related to software upgrades and alterations.
    • Expensed Equipment - Expensed computer hardware and other equipment (e.g., copiers, fax machines, telephones, shop and lab equipment, CPU's, and monitors). Excluded are expenditures for capitalized equipment; for software expenses; for leased and rented equipment; and depreciation for capitalized equipment.
    • Governmental Taxes and License Fees - Payments to governmental agencies for taxes and licenses, business and property taxes and excludes income taxes, and sales and excise taxes collected from customers.
    • Lease and Rental Payments for Land, Buildings, Structures, Store Space and Offices - Payments made to other companies for the rental or leasing of land, buildings, offices and related structures and includes penalties incurred for broken leases.
    • Lease and Rental Payments for Machinery, Equipment, and Other Tangible Items - Payments made to other companies for the rental or leasing of machinery and equipment. Costs for the rental and leasing of computer software are excluded.
    • Purchased Advertising and Promotional Services - Cost of purchases of advertising, marketing and public relations services.
    • Purchased Communication Services - Cost of purchased telephone, cellular, and fax services; computer-related communications (e.g., Internet, connectivity, online); and other wired and wireless communication services.
    • Purchased Electricity - Cost of electricity paid directly to the utility company and excludes the cost of electricity within lease or rental payments.
    • Purchased Fuels (Except Motor Fuels) - Cost of fuels for heating, power, or generation of electricity. It does not include fuel for motor vehicles. It excludes the cost of fuel within lease or rental payments.
    • Purchased Packaging and Containers - Purchases of containers, wrapping, packing and selling supplies used in packaging, processing, shipping, and selling of goods.
    • Purchased Professional and Technical Services - Management consulting, accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, legal, actuarial, payroll processing, architectural, engineering, and other professional services. This excludes salaries paid to a firm's own employees for these services.
    • Purchased Repairs and Maintenance to Buildings, Structures, and Offices - Noncapitalized repairs of and maintenance to buildings, structures, storefronts, and offices. Extensive repairs or reconstruction that were capitalized are considered capital expenditures and are, therefore, excluded from this item. Costs for repair and maintenance provided by an owner as part of a rental contract or incurred directly by an establishment in using its own work force are also excluded.
    • Purchased Repairs and Maintenance to Machinery and Equipment - Cost of all non-capitalized repairs and maintenance to machinery and equipment.
    • Purchased Transportation, Shipping, and Warehousing Services - Cost of purchased postage, shipping or delivery services, or warehousing storage. Also included is the cost of purchased transportation services.
    • Purchases of Other Materials, Parts, and Supplies (Not for Resale) - Cost of other supplies, materials and parts purchased for a firm's own use. This item excludes computer supplies (and packaging supplies purchased by wholesalers and retailers), and the cost of goods purchased for resale.
    • Water, Sewer, Refuse Removal and Other Utility Payments - Cost of purchased services for water, sewage, trash, and utilities not included elsewhere. It excludes costs covered within lease and rental payments.
  • Trade Area - The broad band of business groupings - retail trade, wholesale trade, and service industries.
  • Unpublished Estimates - Additional statistics, such as dollar volume estimates for some kinds of business not separately shown in this report, are produced as a by-product of the regularly published statistics. These additional estimates have not been included in this publication because of high sampling variability, poor response, or other factors that may make them potentially misleading. It should be noted that some unpublished estimates can be derived directly from this report by subtracting published estimates from their respective totals. However, the estimates obtained by such subtraction would be subject to the poor response rates or high sampling variability described previously for unpublished kinds of business.

    Individuals who use estimates in this report to create new estimates should cite the Census Bureau as the source of only the original estimates.
  • Weight - The weight indicates the approximate number of firms in the survey's universe represented by the selected firm. For example, an EIN selected with a weight of 21.000 represents itself and 20 similar businesses (in terms of KB and size) in the survey's universe.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Monthly & Annual Retail Trade | (301) 763-2713 or (301) 763-2747 |  Last Revised: June 04, 2014