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Monthly Retail Trade

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FAQs





How much do the areas that had the biggest impact from natural disasters typically represent of the nation’s retail and food services sales?

The Advance Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Survey (MARTS) is not designed to measure retail and food services activity at specific geographic levels, so current estimates of spending in those areas are unavailable. However we do release monthly state retail sales data which uses the final version of the Monthly Retail Trade Survey data as an input so the state-level data will be published approximately three months after month's end. For more information on this report please visit State Retail Sales page.

For data from other Census Bureau sources on the areas impacted by natural disasters, please see the Census Bureau’s Emergency Preparedness page.

Does the Census Bureau produce monthly retail and food services sales estimates for the affected sample areas?

No. We cannot isolate the effect of natural disasters on the Advance Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Survey (MARTS) estimates since the sample is designed to measure retail and food services activity at the national level and not at specific geographic areas. However we do release monthly state retail sales data which uses the final version of the Monthly Retail Trade Survey data as an input so the state-level data will be published approximately three months after month's end. For more information on this report please visit State Retail Sales page.

As a result of any natural disaster, does the Census Bureau modify its usual weighting or estimation methods used to produce advance monthly sales estimates?

No. Because the advance sample is designed to measure retail and food services sales at the national level and not at specific geographic areas; there is usually not sufficient evidence to support a change. Any exception would be indicated in that month’s release.

Are any estimates ever withheld or delayed because of data collection problems related to natural disasters?

Unless noted in the specific release, all estimates are released as scheduled.

Can the reliability of the advance monthly sales estimates change because of natural disasters?

Unless noted in the specific release, the reliability of the advance estimates as measured by the coefficient of variation for monthly totals and the standard error for month-to-month change does not change substantially. While a few individual firms can report large increases or decreases in their sales because of the effects of natural disasters, this additional variation is not typically large enough to substantially affect the reliability of the published estimates.

Does the Census Bureau alter the procedures for developing seasonally adjusted estimates for the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services?

No. Unless noted in the specific release, the monthly review process of the seasonal adjustment output and diagnostics do not indicate that adjustments to the parameters are necessary.

How do natural disasters impact the Census Bureau’s ability to collect data from respondents?

Depending on the timing, a natural disaster could impact our ability to collect data for companies in that area for a given month. We actively monitor response and adjust collection schedules as necessary. Any deviation from the normal response rates would be highlighted in that month’s release.

How does the Census Bureau determine the impact of natural disasters on the companies?

Through our data collection process, companies can provide information on their performance in a given month. Additionally, companies with unusual trends possibly due to a natural disaster will be contacted by our National Processing Center for validation and an explanation of the reason behind that particular month's response.

What activities does the Census Bureau plan to ensure the affected areas will continue to be accurately represented?

As part of our data collection, we will continue to ask questions that will help us monitor impacts from the affected areas. We will monitor data responses and make adjustments when necessary.

Does this survey include retail and food service establishments in U.S. Territories?

No. This survey covers retail establishments operating only in the 50 states and District of Columbia. U.S. Territories, such as Puerto Rico, generally present their economic statistics separately from those of the United States. Sales of in scope companies that obtain goods from suppliers or sell to customers in Puerto Rico could be impacted by certain natural disasters, but we cannot isolate those effects on the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) estimates.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Monthly Retail Trade | (301) 763-2713 |  Last Revised: December 10, 2021