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8501.0.55.007 - Information Paper: Measurement of Online Retail Trade in Macroeconomic Statistics, 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/08/2013  First Issue
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SCOPE OF MONTHLY RETAIL TRADE STATISTICS


PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE RETAIL BUSINESS SURVEY

The ABS publishes estimates of Retail Trade turnover in Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0). These estimates are compiled from the monthly Retail Business Survey. The primary purpose of this survey is to provide a monthly indicator of the value of total retail turnover by Australian resident businesses from selected retail trade and food services industries. The survey also provides an important quarterly partial-indicator of Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) in the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA).

With this primary purpose in mind, the scope of the survey is defined as all employing businesses within Australia from selected retail trade and food services industries which predominately sell to households. This includes retailers using non-traditional means, such as the internet. To be within the scope of the Retail Business Survey, a business must;

  • Have a base of operations within Australia;
  • Hold an Australian Business Number (ABN);
  • Be registered to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) Pay-As-You-Go withholding scheme; and
  • Have an ANZSIC classification on the ABS Business Register which is within the industry scope of the survey.

Both store based and non-store based retailers, including pure-play online retailers, are within scope of the Retail Business Survey so long as they meet these four conditions. Notably, only sales by Australian resident retailers will be included in ABS retail trade statistics. Resident retailers are those with a centre of economic interest in Australia’s economic territory (i.e. a base of operations in Australia). Non-resident retailers are those with no base of operations in Australia, regardless of whether or not they sell to the Australian general public via an online store.

WHERE ONLINE RETAIL SALES ARE INCLUDED

The ANZSIC classification of businesses engaged in online retail trade activity determines whether they are within the industry scope of ABS retail trade statistics and, if they are within scope, to which retail industry group their sales contribute to.

In most cases, the ABS classifies businesses to individual ANZSIC classes according to their predominant activity. ANZSIC also provides more specific treatments for some situations. Within ANZSIC Division G – Retail Trade, pure-play online retailers are classified to Non-store retailing (ANZSIC Class 4310) along with other retailers whose predominant activity is retailing goods without a physical store presence, such as direct selling via telephone and/or mail. However, online retail trade activity is not limited to this single ANZSIC class because businesses engaged in online retailing may also undertake other activities, such as store-based retailing, wholesaling and/or manufacturing.

The ANZSIC classes which are within the scope of the Retail Business Survey are defined in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Explanatory Notes of Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0). Online retailers whose predominant activity is outside this scope are not included in ABS retail trade statistics. Online retailers whose predominant activity is within this scope contribute to the industry group which reflects their specific ANZSIC classification.

For example, a multi-channel supermarket retailer, which operates both a physical store and an online store, would be classified to Supermarkets and grocery stores (ANZSIC Class 4110). When surveyed, this business would provide their total retail sales for both distribution channels, and this would contribute to ABS estimates of retail turnover for the “Supermarkets and grocery stores and non-petrol sales of selected fuel retailing” industry subgroup.

Similarly, a pure-play online retailer which sells groceries only via its online presence would be classified to Non-store retailing (ANZSIC Class 4310), and their reported online sales would contribute to ABS estimates of retail turnover for the “Other retailing n.e.c.” industry subgroup. Note that Other retailing n.e.c. is a broad grouping of both store-based and non-store based retail businesses. The ABS estimates that pure-play online retailers account for less than 20% of turnover in this industry subgroup.

Finally, a coffee wholesaler, which predominantly sells coffee to supermarkets and cafes, but also sells coffee directly to consumers via an online store, would be classified to Other Grocery Wholesaling (ANZSIC Class 3609), and would not be included anywhere in ABS retail trade statistics because it is outside the scope of the Retail Business Survey.



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