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Sales for U.S. Retail Trade Sector over $ 5,269.5 Billion

Release Number CB20-TPS.06

February 20, 2020 — U.S. retail trade sales increased for the entire retail trade sector (NAICS 44-45) by 4.3% from $5,053.2 billion in 2017 to $5,269.5 billion in 2018, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS).

Motor vehicle and parts dealers (NAICS 441) had sales of $1,191.3 billion, representing an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. Other highlights:

  • Sales for Grocery Stores (NAICS 4451) increased to $665.1 billion in 2018 or 2.7% from $647.8 billion in 2017.
  • Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses (NAICS 4541) had sales of $611.7 billion in 2018, up 11.0% from $551.3 billion in 2017.
  • Sales for Gasoline Stations (NAICS 447) increased to $503.9 billion in 2018 or 9.7% from $459.5 billion in 2017.

The Census Bureau has been conducting the Annual Retail Trade Survey since 1952. It includes 16,500 employer businesses classified in the retail trade sector and covers the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It excludes data for businesses in the U.S. territories. Firms without paid employees (nonemployers) are included in the survey estimates through administrative data provided by other federal agencies and through imputation. The data are published on a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) basis, and the estimates are used to benchmark the monthly retail sales and inventories estimates each spring.

ARTS includes statistics for total annual sales, e-commerce sales, sales taxes, end-of-year inventories, purchases, total operating expenses, gross margins and end-of-year accounts receivable for retail businesses.

Sales, inventory and quarterly e-commerce including new supplemental data are also available through the Monthly Retail Trade Survey. The Annual Retail Trade Survey provides data with more detail at the NAICS level and provides additional data not available in the monthly surveys such as sales taxes, annual purchases, gross margin, operating expenses, accounts receivable and per capita retail sales.

All comparisons of sample-based estimates made in this release have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90% confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the Annual Retail Trade Survey site for measures of sampling variability for sample-based estimates.

All dollar values are expressed in current dollars, i.e., they are not adjusted for price changes. For more information about the Annual Retail Trade Survey (including information on comparability, confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error and definitions), see Annual Retail Trade methodology.

No news release associated with this product. Tip Sheet only.



Leslie Malone
Public Information Office


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