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Business Expenses Supplement (BES)


The Business Expenses Supplement (BES) produces detailed operating expenses estimates for retail businesses located in the United States.

Previously, the BES also produced national estimates for accommodation and food service firms in the United States. Beginning with the 2016 survey year, however, the accommodation and food service data are now collected and published through the Service Annual Survey (SAS).    


The supplement is conducted every five years. Specifically, it occurs in years ending in "2" and "7," just like the Economic Census.


The estimates include data only for retail businesses with paid employees (that are located in the United States).


All businesses that receive the BES are asked to provide data on their total and detailed operating expenses for the year being collected. In particular, businesses must submit data related to their annual payroll before deductions, purchased electricity, purchased advertising and promotional services, etc. The BES questions are added to the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) questionnaires in years ending in “2” and “7.” 


Estimates are released approximately 15 months after the reference year has concluded and are published at an industry level. The industries used in the BES data products stem from the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Select the “Data” option from the menu on the left to view all of the ARTS data products, including BES (Detailed Operating Expenses) data.


Many individuals and organizations use the data produced from the Business Expenses Supplement for a variety of reasons. The following list describes some of the most important uses of the BES data:

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) uses the data for its gross domestic product (GDP) estimates and in developing its input-output tables.
  • Market researchers, economic analysts, academics, business owners, and other government agencies rely on the data to develop a complete picture of economic activity in the United States.

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