Whether shopping for big-ticket items like houses, cars, appliances and furniture or for birthdays, Mother’s Day or holiday presents, Census Bureau statistics are the gifts that keep on giving.
Of course, the biggest shopping season is during the holidays. What’s the next biggest? Back-to-school, according to the National Retail Federation.
The Census Bureau has retail trade statistics for all seasons, by quarter, year, month and even by week.
The Census Bureau has retail trade statistics for all seasons, by quarter, year, month and even by week. Annual numbers do not cover sales during the pandemic.
For a big picture, let’s look at the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) from 1998 to 2018. This shows retail sales by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
From 1998 to 2018, total U.S. retail trade sales grew from $2,581.8 billion to $5,269.5 billion and the share of e-commerce soared from $5.0 billion to $519.6 billion.
The 2019 ARTS will be released during the first quarter of 2021.
The recently released Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) for the third quarter of 2020, shows recent sales and net income after tax for U.S. Retail Trade Corporations, assets $50 million and over.
Quarterly retail e-commerce sales show estimated sales for the third quarter of 2020 were $209.5 billion, down 1.0% from the second quarter. Sales are adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes.
We’ll know more about holiday sales when preliminary estimates for the fourth quarter and revised estimates for the third quarter are released Feb. 19, 2021.
For this story, advance monthly sales for retail and food services are through November 2020, not adjusted. Table 1 compares the 11-month (January - November) totals for 2020 to the same 11 months in 2019, by percentage change.
Growing sectors include:
Declining sectors include:
The December 2020 Advance Monthly Retail report is scheduled to be released on Jan. 15, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. EST. View the full schedule in the Economic Indicators Briefing Room.
Monthly data are also available at the state level, thanks to our new experimental data product, Monthly State Retail Sales (MSRS). This is a blended data product that uses Monthly Retail Trade Survey, administrative and third-party data.
Year-over-year percentage changes are also available for total retail sales excluding Nonstore Retailers and 11 NAICS retail subsectors, beginning with January 2019.
Weekly data releases for retail trade are now coming from the Small Business Pulse Survey, an experimental data product that tracks the impact of the pandemic on small businesses. We began releasing Phase 3 results weekly Nov. 19 and will continue through Jan. 14, 2021.
We even have weekly data on early-stage business applications at the national, regional and state level from another experimental data product, Business Formation Statistics (BFS).
BFS use data from the Internal Revenue Service's Employer Identification Number Applications (Form SS-4) to create a time series on the number of business applications filed, by industry sectors and sub-sectors. Data are provided for each week in 2019 and 2020.
The survey, conducted since 1980, provides data on expenditures, income and demographic characteristics of consumers in the United States. The data are used for calculating the Consumer Price Index (CPI), our nation’s most important measure of inflation.
From the Census Bureau Newsroom, Stats for Stories (SFS) links you to newsworthy and timely stats about current events, observances, holidays and anniversaries. This past year, we released numerous SFS related to shopping:
Derick Moore is senior communications specialist at the Census Bureau.
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