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Monthly Wholesale Trade

About the Survey


  • To provide month-to-month trends for sales and inventories of U.S. merchant wholesalers, excluding manufacturers' sales branches and offices (MSBOs).
  • Title 13 of the United States Code authorizes the Census Bureau to conduct this survey and provides for voluntary responses.

Content: Companies provide estimates on monthly sales and end-of-month inventories.


  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the estimates as an input to estimate sales and inventories for the Gross Domestic Product.
  • The Council of Economic Advisers uses the estimates for assessing near term economic activity.
  • The Department of the Treasury uses the estimates to research economic trends.
  • Business and industry groups use the estimates to forecast future demand.
  • Researchers use the estimates to benchmark the results from their own sampling operations.
  • Manufacturers can use inventory estimates as a proxy for the distributors confidence for future expected sales.


  • Estimates are released 6 weeks after the close of the data month, containing preliminary current month estimates and final data for the previous month. Statistics include: sales, inventories, and inventories/sales ratios along with standard errors. Estimates are both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted.
  • An annual benchmark report is released each spring. This report presents the results of the benchmarking operation that revises monthly sales and inventories estimates based on the Annual Wholesale Trade Survey. Estimates are both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted.

Frequency: Monthly since 1936. New samples are drawn approximately every 5 years and are updated quarterly. Use of the latest sample began in April 2018.

Coverage: Companies with employment that are primarily engaged in merchant wholesale trade in the U.S, as defined by the 2012 NAICS, excluding MSBOs. Also excluded are non-merchant wholesalers such as agents, brokers, and electronic markets.

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