Welcome to the Retail Trade Margins Respondent's Help Page
Refer to this Section if you have recently received a Quarterly Retail Trade Margins Survey form from the ABS and require assistance in completing the survey form. Listed below are "Frequently Asked Questions" from businesses and our response. If you have any further queries or need assistance in completing the Retail Trade Margins Survey form, please contact the Retail Trade Margins Section, our contact details are listed at the bottom of this page.
Retail Trade Margins Survey Charter
The ABS has a Surveys Charter which sets out the relationship between the ABS and businesses which provide it with information for statistical purposes. This charter is available from the ABS website, ABS Surveys Charter, 2010 (Cat. no. 1008.0).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How was I selected?
Participants in the survey are selected on the basis of their contribution to retail sales and/or their representativeness of activity within detailed commodity groups .
2. How did you get my company name and address?
Your company's name and address details are sourced from the ABS Business Register. This contains the name and addresses of all business in Australia, and is primarily based on registrations to the Australian Taxation Office's Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYGW) scheme (and prior to 1 July 2000 the Group Employer scheme).
3. How long will I be in the sample?
The quarterly Retail Trade Margins Survey selects businesses based on the significance of their contribution to the retail industry by retail sales and/or their representativeness of activity within detailed commodity groups. As a consequence of this, significant businesses within the retail industry will remain in the Retail Trade Margins Survey indefinitely. Other businesses may be rotated in/out of the survey from time to time.
4. Can I have more time to complete the form?
If you are unable to supply us with figures by the due date, it may be possible for us to give you an extension of time. Please note that careful estimates are acceptable if actual data are not available.
5. Is it compulsory? What if I refuse to fill it in?
The ABS relies on the willing cooperation of businesses selected in our surveys to provide accurate information as requested. The vast majority of businesses respond willingly to our requests for information.
However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions.
ABS surveys are rarely voluntary as high response rates ensure that the statistics produced are of an acceptable quality.
6. This is an intrusion into my private business. Is confidentiality guaranteed?
Data supplied by businesses to the ABS remains strictly confidential. It is used to compile aggregate price indices and under no circumstances does the ABS publish any data which would enable your data to be identified. Further, it is an offence under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 for ABS staff to either directly or indirectly, divulge or communicate any information furnished in pursuance of the Act to any person (other than the person from whom the information was obtained).
7. What about the workload we already have?
The ABS is very conscious of the reporting load imposed on businesses in completing our statistical surveys. For some time the ABS has been actively pursuing a policy of reducing this load to the minimum necessary to fulfil its obligations as a national statistical agency. In addition, the ABS is continuing to explore ways of using administrative data, including the use of the data reported in the Business Activity Statement, to further reduce the business reporting load.
8. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms?
To enable the ABS to fulfil its responsibilities as the national statistical organisation, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides for the compulsory furnishing of statistical information. The Act does not provide for payment of respondents to statistical collections. If the ABS was required to pay for the statistical information it collects it could not do so without significant additional funds. It is ABS policy that businesses responding to ABS surveys are entitled to a complimentary copy of relevant publications upon request.
9. How accurate do the figures need to be?
The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the total estimate of our statistics will be. However, where accurate data are not readily available, careful estimates are accepted. You are better placed to provide these estimates given your knowledge of current business conditions. Careful estimates can be based on the latest financial year accounts, stocktake or last quarter's reported data.
We know that some businesses claim to provide vastly inaccurate data on their survey forms and possibly a few do. However, our processing systems contain checks for consistency and validity and we are usually able to identify figures which are seriously incorrect. These checks suggest that most businesses do behave responsibly and give the best figures that they can. As many businesses use ABS statistics to assist in managing their operations, they appreciate the need to supply the ABS with accurate information.
10. I have already sent you the information requested.
If you have received a reminder notice about your form, it probably means you have returned the form at the same time as your reminder notice was issued. If you wish to confirm this, feel free to contact us so we can check against our records. See the Retail Trade Margins contact details below on how to contact us.
The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of businesses in returning their completed forms promptly to enable early processing and production of high quality retail margins statistics. We look forward to your continued support.
Contact Details for the Retail Trade Margins Section
Telephone: 1800 030 231 (toll free)
Mail: Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 796 SYDNEY NSW 2001
This page first published 15 September 2005, last updated 9 August 2012