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Supplemental Quarterly E-Commerce Table

A dynamic retail economy garners great attention every day as it evolves to meet consumers’ changing needs and to adapt to emerging technologies. The evolution of e-commerce is a particularly noteworthy topic to retail industry experts, analysts, policymakers, and consumers. As a result, there is increased interest in the Census Bureau’s retail data products that measure the e-commerce component of the retail economy. In order to meet the needs of its data users, the United States Census Bureau has made it a priority to:

  1. Evaluate the current definition of e-commerce.
  2. Produce additional e-commerce data products where quality standards and resources allow.

The first priority is a long-term goal. A group of Census Bureau retail and classification subject matter experts are working with retail industry experts to better understand how different retail industry stakeholders—be it retailers, real estate developers, financial institutions, or retail trade groups, among others—define and track e-commerce.

The second priority is a short-term goal. A Census Bureau E-Commerce Data Analysis Team was tasked with researching the feasibility of using already collected data to produce one or more supplemental e-commerce tables. These tables would be published in conjunction with the Quarterly E-Commerce Report. The Census Bureau currently produces the following e-commerce data products on a monthly or quarterly basis:

  • On a monthly basis, the Monthly Retail Trade Report includes estimates for companies classified by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as Nonstore Retailers (NAICS 454) and a subset of those companies in NAICS 4541 called Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses. However, other retailers that may not be conducting e-commerce, including electronic auctions and mail-order houses, are also included in these estimates.
  • On a quarterly basis, the Quarterly E-Commerce Report is published. This report provides a single quarterly estimate measuring all retail e-commerce sales captured by the Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS).

The new Supplemental Quarterly Retail E-Commerce table shows e-commerce sales broken out by retailers’ primary kind of business providing data users with more granular e-commerce sales data.

Initial Release Date

September 2019

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