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Monthly Wholesale Trade


  • Agents and Brokers - Persons or organizations that act as a representative for others in negotiating contracts, purchases, or sales. Agents and brokers typically earn a commission or fee for their services and do not take possession of, or title to, any goods.
  • Annual Wholesale Trade Survey - A mandatory annual survey which collects sales and inventories data from the major components of wholesale trade: Agents and Brokers, Distributors, Manufacturer's Sales Branches and Offices (see "MSBOs"), Importers and Exporters.
  • Auxiliary Facilities - Also known as enterprise support units of a reporting company, these are primarily engaged in furnishing supporting services to the company’s operating units, such as warehouses, central administrative offices, garages, and repair services.
  • AWTS - See 'Annual Wholesale Trade Survey'
  • BMF - See 'Business Master File'
  • Bonded Warehouses - Warehouses that are authorized by the United States Customs for storage or manufacturing of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed into Customs Territory. These goods are not subject to duties if reshipped to foreign points.
  • Business Master File - The Business Master file is a database of information maintained on businesses operating in the United States and filing taxes. The IRS updates the BMF on a regular basis so that it reflects current records of each business that pays taxes. The BMF is used to supplement the Census Bureau's business register.
  • Calendar Month Reporter - A firm that closes their books on the last day of each month, or on the same date each month (e.g., the 28th).
  • Capitalized Expenses - Also known as capital expenditures, this includes all expenditures during the year for both new and used structures and equipment chargeable to asset accounts for which depreciation or amortization accounts are ordinarily maintained. Also included are capitalized leasehold improvements and capitalized interest charges on loans used to finance capital projects.
  • Confidentiality - The U.S. Census Bureau is required by Section 9 of Title 13 United States Code to keep respondents' information confidential and can use the information only to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release a respondent's information in a way that could identify a business, organization, or institution. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, submitted data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit the data.
  • Cost of goods sold - Beginning inventories plus purchases of goods for resale minus ending inventories.
  • Data Month - The month for which data are being requested.
  • Disclosure Avoidance - The process by which the Census Bureau protects individual establishments or business organizations' information from being published in a report or being determined based on a publication. This is done in accordance with federal law.
  • Distributor - A wholesaler that buys and owns (takes title to) products prior to reselling them to its customers.
  • Drop Ship - When a manufacturer drops a shipment off at a customer's site, although a wholesaler makes the sale.
  • E-Commerce - The sale of goods and services where the buyer places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over an Electronic Data Interchange, the Internet, or any other online system (extranet, e-mail, instant messaging). Payment may or may not be made online.
  • EDI - See 'Electronic Data Interchange'

  • Electronic Data Interchange - The exchange of documents in standardized electronic form between organizations in an automated manner directly from a computer application in one organization to an application in another.
  • Employer Identification Number - A nine-digit number used to report payroll information to the Internal Revenue Service on Employer's Quarterly Tax Return, Treasury Form 941, and the Annual Tax Return, Treasury Form 944. The law requires firms with paid employees to make contributions to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Employer identification numbers are grouped as follows: 00-0000000 with the first two digits identifying the state in which the firm is located. Employer identification numbers should not be confused with Social Security Numbers assigned to individual employees or self-employed persons. The latter are grouped as follows: 000-00-0000.
  • Establishment - A single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed.
  • Expenses - See Total Operating Expenses
  • Firm - A business organization or entity consisting of one or more domestic establishment locations under common ownership or control.
  • Foreign Trade Zones - Enclosed areas, operated as public utilities, under control of United States Customs with facilities for handling, storing, manipulating, manufacturing, and exhibiting goods. The merchandise may be exported, destroyed, or sent into Customs Territory from the zone in the original package or otherwise. It is subject to Customs duties if sent into Customs Territory, but not if reshipped to foreign points.
  • Gross margin - Sales minus cost of goods sold.
  • Imports - Commodities of foreign origin or domestically produced goods that are returned to the United States with no change in condition or after having been processed and/or assembled in other countries.
  • Imputation - Process used to resolve problems of missing, invalid, or inconsistent responses identified during editing. Responses or missing values on the edited record are changed to ensure that a plausible, internally coherent record is created.
  • Interest Expense - Interest expense incurred in the financing of operations and long lived assets used in continuing operations, and excludes transfers made within the company and capitalized interest. For kinds of business covered in this survey, interest is not considered a type of operating expense.
  • Inventories - The value, at cost, of merchandise on hand and available for sale at the end of the reference month. All goods owned by a firm, regardless of location, except goods outside the United States are included. Items not held for resale, such as fixtures, equipment, and supplies are excluded. Also excluded is the value of goods on a firm's premises but not owned by the firm.
  • Inventories-to-Sales Ratio - Also, I/S ratio; A ratio derived from dividing the dollar value of inventories by the dollar value of sales. No adjustment is made in these ratios for the markup in sales, which may vary from trade to trade.
  • KB - See 'Kind of Business'
  • Kind of Business - The principal kind of business being conducted at an establishment.
  • Manufacturers - Establishments in the manufacturing sector are often described as plants, factories, or mills, and characteristically use power-driven machines and material-handling equipment. Manufacturing establishments may process materials, or may contract with other establishments to process their materials for them. Both types of establishments are included in manufacturing.
  • Manufacturers' Sales Branches and Offices - Establishments maintained by manufacturing, refining, or mining enterprises apart from their plants or mines for the purpose of marketing their products. Sales branches will typically carry inventories, while sales offices typically do not.
  • Merchant Wholesalers - Wholesalers who sell goods on their own account such as distributors, jobbers, drop shippers, import/export merchants, and MSBOs.
  • MSBOs - See 'Manufacturers' Sales Branches and Offices'
  • MWTS - See 'Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey'
  • Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey - A voluntary monthly survey which collects sales and inventories data for distributors.
  • Multiunit Firms - Firms with two or more establishments.
  • Noncertainty Firms - Small or medium-sized EIN firms (in terms of sales, receipts, or inventories) selected for the current business sample.
  • Non-Merchant Wholesalers - Wholesalers that are defined as Agents and Brokers.
  • Previous Month - The month that precedes the data month.
  • Privacy Act - A 1974 Federal Act that protects the privacy of personal information that the government has on file. The act places restrictions on the collection, use, maintenance, and release of information about individuals.
  • Reactivation - A selected EIN, which has been previously identified as BMF inactive and dropped from a current business survey, and is now active based on BMF records. In most cases, reactivations occur when a firm resumes business under an EIN, which was previously identified as BMF inactive.
  • Reporting Unit - Subsidiaries, divisions or other operating units of the EIN or company sampling unit separately identified on the database for purposes of collecting data from each individual part. If all data for a sampling unit are obtained from one location, the sampling and reporting unit records are equivalent.
  • Sales Tax - A tax collected directly from customers by wholesalers when they make taxable wholesale sales. Sales taxes could include state, county and local taxes. Sales taxes exclude excise taxes.
  • Sample - A group of businesses selected from all possible businesses operating in the United States that have paid employees. The sample is representative of the entire population.
  • Sampling Unit - A business or entity that was selected to participate in the survey.
  • Sampling Weight - The reciprocal of the probability of selection of a sampling unit into its respective sample. The weight indicates the approximate number of firms in the business universe represented by the selected firms. Reporting units and tabulation units assume the weight of their sampling units. For example, an EIN number selected with a weight of 21, represents itself and 20 similar businesses (in terms of industry and size) in the survey's universe.
  • Title 13 - Title 13 is the legal authority for the Census Bureau's programs. The Census Bureau's authority is founded on the United States constitution and Title 13. The data collected by the Census Bureau provide for the foundation on which our democratic system of government is based and are the leading source of quality data about the nation's economy and people. To fulfill its mission, the Census Bureau must collect quality data and distribute it in a way that preserves usefulness while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
  • Title 26 - Title 26 Internal Revenue Code provides for the conditions under which the Internal Revenue Service may disclose Federal Tax Returns and Return Information (FTI) to other agencies. Specifically, 26, U.S.C. 6103 (j) (1) provides for the disclosure of FTI to the Census Bureau for statistical purposes in the structuring of censuses and national economic accounts, as well as for conducting related statistical activities authorized by law.
  • Total Operating Expenses - The sum of detailed types of expenses. It excludes cost of goods sold; income, sales, and excise taxes; capital expenditures; funds invested; and interest expense. The detailed expenses are listed below:
    • All Other Operating Expenses - Operating expenses not reported elsewhere, such as bank card charges, motor fuel, and travel expense. Excluded are purchase of products for resale (cost of goods sold); bad debt; transfers made within the company; capitalized expenses; interest; impairment; income, sales, and excise taxes; and other non-operating expenses.
    • Annual Payroll - The gross earnings of all employees paid during the calendar year (cash basis). It includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in kind, prior to such deductions as employees' social security contributions, withholding taxes, group insurance, union dues, and savings bonds. The total includes salaries of officers of corporations; it excludes payments to proprietors or partners of unincorporated concerns. The Census definition of payroll is identical to that recommended to all Federal statistical agencies by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, in particular, the definition used on the Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, Treasury Form 941. This definition does not include employers' social security contributions or other nonpayroll labor costs, such as employees' pension plans, group insurance premiums, and workers' compensation. Data presented on annual payroll are sample-based and include payroll of enterprise support locations, such as retail warehouses and central administrative offices, and thus may not match payroll data compiled in the 2007 Economic Census.
      • Commissions - Commissions paid to other firms or independent contractors, including payments by wholesalers to other firms for commissioned sale of merchandise. This item excludes commissions paid to the firm’s own employees (included in payroll) and commissions paid by wholesale agents and brokers.
      • Contract Temporary Staff and Leased Employee Expense - Payments to other firms for the contractual use of their employees. These employees are supplied by other firms to perform specific jobs, and include temporary help and leased employees. Day-to-day supervision is provided by the purchasing firm. For example, contractual costs for security and janitorial personnel are excluded if supervised by the supplying firms, but are included in data compiled on other operating expenses.
      • Data Processing and Other Purchased Computer Services - Computer facilities management services, computer input preparation, data storage, computer time rental, optical scanning services, and other computer-related advice and services, including training.
      • Depreciation and Amortization Charges - Depreciation charged against tangible assets owned and used by a firm, tangible assets and improvements owned by a firm within leaseholds, and tangible assets obtained through capital lease agreements. This item also includes amortization charges against intangible assets (i.e., goodwill, patents, copyrights, etc.). Excluded from this item is accumulated depreciation.
      • Employer’s Cost for Fringe Benefits - Expenditures made by the employer for legally required and voluntary fringe benefit programs for employees. Legally required fringe benefits includes all programs required under Federal and State legislation such as FICA, unemployment tax, workers' compensation, and state disability payments. Voluntary fringe benefits includes programs not specifically required by Federal or State legislation, such as life and health insurance premiums for employees; costs incurred under defined contribution plans such as profit sharing; and costs incurred for both qualified and unqualified defined pension plans.
      • Expensed Purchases of Software - Purchases of prepackaged, custom coded, or vendor customized software including software developed or customized by others, web design services and purchases, licensing agreements, upgrades of software; and maintenance fees related to software upgrades and alterations.
      • Expensed Equipment - Expensed computer hardware and other equipment (e.g., copiers, fax machines, telephones, shop and lab equipment, CPU’s, and monitors). Excluded are expenditures for capitalized equipment; for software expenses; for leased and rented equipment; and depreciation for capitalized equipment.
      • Governmental Taxes and License Fees - Payments to governmental agencies for taxes and licenses, business and property taxes and excludes income taxes, and sales and excise taxes collected from customers.
      • Lease and Rental Payments for Land, Buildings, Structures, Store Space and Offices - Payments made to other companies for the rental or leasing of land, buildings, offices and related structures and includes penalties incurred for broken leases.
      • Lease and Rental Payments for Machinery, Equipment, and Other tangible items - Payments made to other companies for the rental or leasing of machinery and equipment. Costs for the rental and leasing of computer software are excluded.
      • Purchased Advertising and Promotional Services - Cost of purchases of advertising, marketing and public relations services.
      • Purchased Communication Services - Cost of purchased telephone, cellular, and fax services; computer-related communications (e.g., Internet, connectivity, online); and other wired and wireless communication services.
      • Purchased Electricity - Cost of electricity paid directly to the utility company and excludes the cost of electricity within lease or rental payments.
      • Purchased Fuels (Except Motor Fuels) - Cost of fuels for heating, power, or generation of electricity. It does not include fuel for motor vehicles. It excludes the cost of fuel within lease or rental payments.
      • Purchased Packaging and Containers - Purchases of containers, wrapping, packing and selling supplies used in packaging, processing, shipping, and selling of goods.
      • Purchased Professional and Technical Services - Management consulting, accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, legal, actuarial, payroll processing, architectural, engineering, and other professional services. This excludes salaries paid to a firm’s own employees for these services.
      • Purchased Repairs and Maintenance to Buildings, Structures, and Offices - Noncapitalized repairs of and maintenance to buildings, structures, storefronts, and offices. Extensive repairs or reconstruction that were capitalized are considered capital expenditures and are, therefore, excluded from this item. Costs for repair and maintenance provided by an owner as part of a rental contract or incurred directly by an establishment in using its own work force are also excluded.
      • Purchased Repairs and Maintenance to Machinery and Equipment - Cost of all non-capitalized repairs and maintenance to machinery and equipment.
      • Purchased Transportation, Shipping, and Warehousing Services - Cost of purchased postage, shipping or delivery services, or warehousing storage. Also included is the cost of purchased transportation services.
      • Purchases of Other Materials, Arts, and Supplies (Not for Resale) - Cost of other supplies, materials and parts purchased for a firm’s own use. This item excludes computer supplies (and packaging supplies purchased by wholesalers and retailers), and the cost of goods purchased for resale.
      • Water, Sewer, refuse removal and other utility payments - Cost of purchased services for water, sewage, trash, and utilities not included elsewhere. It excludes costs covered within lease and rental payments.
  • Trade Area - The broad band of business groupings - retail trade, wholesale trade, and service industries.
  • Weight - The weight indicates the approximate number of firms in the survey's universe represented by the selected firm. For example, an EIN selected with a weight of 21.000 represents itself and 20 similar businesses (in terms of KB and size) in the survey's universe.
  • Wholesaler - A business that sells to retailers, contractors, or other types of businesses (including farms), but not to the general public (or at least not in any significant amount).

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