8622.0 - Retail and Wholesale Industries, Australia, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/07/2014   
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Definitions of key terms

Australian international financial reporting standards

Survey design

Effects of rounding

Data comparability

Further information


1 This publication presents estimates of the economic and financial performance of Retail and Wholesale businesses in Australia for 2012–13. This is the fifth time the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has published detailed statistics on the Retail and Wholesale industries. The last collection was undertaken for the financial year 2005–06 and prior to that 1998–99.

2 The estimates are produced using directly collected data from the Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and Business Activity Statement (BAS) data provided by businesses to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Reference period

3 The reference period covered by this collection is intended to be the 12 months ended 30 June 2013. Where businesses were unable to supply information on this basis, an accounting period for which data can be provided is used for data other than those relating to employment. Such businesses can make a substantial contribution to some of the estimates presented in this publication.

4 Although financial estimates relate to the full 12 months, employment estimates relate to the last pay period ending in June 2013. As a result, estimates of wages and salaries per person employed may be affected by any fluctuations in employment during the reference period.

5 Financial data incorporate all units in scope of the 2012–13 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey that were in operation at any time during the year. They also include any temporarily inactive units, i.e. those units which were in the development stage or were not in operation, but still existed and held or acquired assets and liabilities and/or incurred some non-operating expenses (e.g. depreciation, administration costs).


6 The businesses that contribute to the statistics in this publication are classified by:


7 The scope of the collection was employing and non-employing businesses operating in the Australian economy, classified to either Division F (Wholesale trade) or Division G (Retail trade) of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) during 2012-13.

8 Businesses were included in the scope of the collection if their turnover was above a threshold level, or the business was identified as being an employing business (based on ATO information) as at the end of the reference period. Turnover thresholds were set for each ANZSIC Subdivision so that, in aggregate, the contribution of businesses in scope of the collection accounted for approximately 97.5% of total Subdivision turnover as determined by BAS. This is a change in scope since the last iteration of the survey in 2005–06, which included non-employing businesses whose BAS turnover, in aggregate, was below the bottom 2.5 percentile of BAS turnover for that ANZSIC Subdivision.

9 For the Retail Industry the scope included Australian businesses mainly engaged in the purchase and on-selling, and commission-based buying and/or selling of goods, without significant transformation, to the general public. This included the on-sell of goods to the general public through online transactions.

10 For the Wholesale Industry the scope included Australian businesses mainly engaged in the purchase and on-selling, and commission-based buying and/or selling of goods, without significant transformation, to other businesses.

11 The scope of the collection excludes entities classified to SISCA 3 General government. Government-owned or controlled Public Non-Financial Corporations are included.

12 This section discusses frame, statistical units, coverage issues and improvements to coverage.


13 Businesses contributing to the estimates in this publication are sourced from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR), which has two components as described below.

Statistical units

14 The ABS uses an economic statistics units model on the ABSBR to describe the characteristics of businesses and the structural relationships between related businesses. Within large and diverse business groups, the units model is used to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

15 In mid 2002, the ABS commenced sourcing its register information from the ABR and at that time changed its business register to a two population model. The two populations comprise what is called the Profiled Population and the Non-Profiled Population. The main distinction between businesses in the two populations relates to the complexity of the business structure and the degree of intervention required to reflect the business structure for statistical purposes.

Profiled Population

16 For a small number of businesses, the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS economic statistical purposes and the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with businesses. These businesses constitute the Profiled Population. This population consists typically of large or complex groups of businesses. The statistical units model below caters for such businesses:
  • Enterprise group: This is a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. It covers all the operations in Australia of legal entities which are related in terms of the current Corporations Law (as amended by the Corporations Legislation Amendment Act 1991), including legal entities such as companies, trusts and partnerships. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised.
  • Enterprise: The enterprise is an institutional unit comprising:
      • a single legal entity or business entity, or
      • more than one legal entity or business entity within the same enterprise group and in the same institutional subsector (i.e. they are all classified to a single Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA) subsector).
  • Type of activity unit (TAU): The TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an enterprise group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry Subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant Subdivision of the ANZSIC). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry Subdivision.

Non-Profiled Population

17 The majority of businesses included on the ABS Business Register are in the Non-Profiled Population. Most of these businesses are understood to have simple structures. For these businesses, the ABS is able to use the ABN as the basis for a statistical unit. One ABN equates to one statistical unit.

Coverage issues

18 The ANZSIC-based industry statistics presented in this publication are compiled differently from activity statistics. Each ABN unit or TAU on the ABSBR has been classified (by the ATO and the ABS respectively) to its single predominant industry Class, irrespective of any diversity of activities undertaken. A retail or wholesale business is one that is predominantly engaged in purchase and on-selling of goods without significant transformation, however the data collected for it covers all activities of the business including non-retail/wholesale activities.

19 The ABS attempts to maintain a current understanding of the structure of the large, complex and diverse business groups form the Profiled Population on the ABSBR, through direct contact with those businesses. Resultant changes in their structures on the ABSBR can affect:
  • the availability of such businesses (or units within them) for inclusion in economic collections
  • the delineation of the units, within those groups, for which data are to be reported.

20 The ABS attempts to obtain data for those businesses selected for direct collection and which ceased operation during the year but it is not possible to obtain data for all such businesses.

Improvements to coverage

21 Data in this publication have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABSBR, and the omission of some businesses from the register. The majority of businesses affected, and to which the adjustments apply, are small in size. As an example, the effect of these adjustments is generally 4% or less for most ANZSIC industry Divisions and for most states and territories.

22 Adjustments have been made to include new businesses in the estimates for the period in which they commenced operation, rather than when they were processed to the ABSBR.

23 For more information on these adjustments, please refer to the ABS publication Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (cat. no. 1357.0).

24 This publication presents a wide range of data that can be used to analyse business and industry performance.

25 Differences in accounting policy and practices across businesses and industries can lead to some inconsistencies in the data input to the statistics. Although much of the accounting process is subject to standards, there is still a great deal of flexibility left to individual managers and accountants through the accounting policies and practices they adopt. For example, the way profit is measured is affected by management policy about such issues as depreciation rates, bad debt provisions and write off, and goodwill write off. The varying degree to which businesses consolidate their accounts may also affect any industry performance measures calculated.

26 The above limitations are not meant to imply that analysis based on these data should be avoided, only that they should be borne in mind when interpreting the data presented in this publication.


27 The Australian equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (AIFRS) were progressively implemented in Australia from 1 January 2005. As a result, a number of items in the financial accounts of Australian businesses have been affected by changed definitions, which have in turn affected both income statements and balance sheets. A range of ABS economic collections source data from financial accounts of businesses and use those data to derive economic statistics. There have been no changes in the associated economic definitions.

28 The frame (from which the direct collect sample was selected) was stratified using information held on the ABSBR. Businesses eligible for selection in the direct collect sample were then selected from the frame using stratified random sampling techniques.

29 Businesses were only eligible for selection in the survey (the direct collect sample) if their turnover exceeded a threshold level, or the business was identified as being an employing business (based on ATO information), as at the end of the reference period. A sample of 6,425 retail businesses and 3,770 wholesale businesses were selected for the directly collected part of the 2012–13 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey. Each business was asked to provide data sourced primarily from financial statements. Businesses were also asked to supply key details of their operations by state and territory, enabling production of the state/territory estimates. For the first time in 2012–13, the ABS introduced online questionnaires for business surveys.

30 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.

31 Proportions and other calculated figures shown in this publication have been calculated using un-rounded estimates and may be different from, but are more accurate than, calculations based on the rounded estimates.


Comparison with other ABS statistics

32 Key annual industry data for Retail and Wholesale trade are also published in Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0). Both Australian Industry and Retail and Wholesale Industries publications present estimates based on businesses classified to ANZSIC Division F (Wholesale trade) and G (Retail trade). There are, however, important differences between the statistics published in the two publications. Retail and Wholesale Industries was partially integrated with Divisions F (Wholesale trade) and G (Retail trade) in Australian Industry for 2012–13. Partial integration means that different sample sizes have been used for producing the Retail and Wholesale Industries survey and Australian Industry estimates. Different sample sizes have resulted in minor variations between estimates due to the presence of sampling error. Users should exercise caution when making comparisons between the two sets of estimates.

33 The Retail and Wholesale Industries publication supplements the Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0) summary statistics with a detailed examination of the performance, structure and activities of retail and wholesale businesses for the 2012-13 reference year.

34 Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0) is a monthly publication which presents estimates of turnover for retail establishments. It includes businesses classified to ANZSIC Industry Group 451 - Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food service, which are out of scope of the Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey. There are further scope differences between the two surveys and users should exercise caution when making comparisons.

Historical comparisons

35 Historical comparisons have not been made in this publication due to changes in scope and industry classification from previous iterations of the survey. For more information please refer to the 'Coherence' paragraph in the Data Quality Declaration.


36 A range of further information is available, as described below.

Related publications

37 The following ABS publications present industry specific data:

* Please note publication 8624.0 has been discontinued. Margins at product level collected from businesses surveyed in the 2012–13 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey will be used to update benchmarks for Input-Output tables published by National Accounts in: Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables - (cat. no. 5209.0.55.001).

Other information available

38 The ABS issues a daily Release Advice on its web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.

39 Inquiries about this or other ABS publications should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

40 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Use of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data in this publication

41 The results of these studies are based, in part, on tax data supplied by the ATO to the ABS under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, which requires that such data are only used for statistical purposes. No individual information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 is provided back to the ATO for administrative or regulatory purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes, and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ATO's core operational requirements.

42 Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of these data have been followed. Only people authorised under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 have been permitted to view data about any particular organisation and/or person in conducting these analyses. No information about individual taxpayers (persons) has been released to the ABS. Aggregated personal income tax data are confidentialised by the ATO before release to the ABS. In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, results have been confidentialised to ensure that they are not likely to enable identification of a particular person or organisation.