8624.0 - Retail and Wholesale Industries, Australia: Commodities, 2005-06  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/08/2007   
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1 This publication presents a limited set of statistics relating to commodities sold by businesses involved in the retail and wholesale industries for the 2005-06 financial year. This is the third time the ABS has published commodity statistics. Previous collections were conducted in respect of the 1991-92 and 1998-99 financial years for the retail industry only. This is the first time that results are being released for the combined retail and wholesale industries.

2 There were 8,672 retail businesses and 4,935 wholesale businesses selected in the collection. For more information refer to the Technical Note.


3 The scope of the 2005-06 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey was all employing and non-employing businesses on the ABS Business Register, classified to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC06) Division G Retail Trade and Division F Wholesale Trade. Non-employing businesses were excluded from the scope of previous surveys.

4 For the retail industry the scope included Australian businesses mainly engaged in the purchase and onselling, commission-based buying, and commission-based selling of goods, without significant transformation, to the general public. The retail industry also included businesses that purchase and onsell goods to the general public using non-traditional means, including the Internet.

5 For the wholesale industry the scope included Australian businesses mainly engaged in the purchase and onselling, the commission-based buying, and the commission-based selling of goods, without significant transformation, to businesses.


6 The ABS uses an economic statistics units model on the ABS Business Register to describe the characteristics of businesses, and the structural relationships between related businesses. The units model is also used to break groups of related businesses into relatively homogeneous components that can provide data to the ABS.

7 In mid-2002, to better use the information available as a result of The New Tax System, the ABS changed its economic statistics units model. The new units model allocates businesses to one of two sub-populations. The vast majority of businesses are in what is called the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Maintained Population, while the remaining businesses are in the ABS Maintained Population. Together, these two sub-populations make up the ABS Business Register population.

ATO Maintained Population

8 Most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN), and are then included on the ATO Australian Business Register. Most of these businesses have simple structures; therefore the unit registered for an ABN satisfies ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. The businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO Maintained Population, and the ABN unit is used as the economic statistics unit for all economic collections.

ABS Maintained Population

9 For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business. These businesses constitute the ABS Maintained Population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses. The new statistical units model described below has been introduced to cover 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 (i) a single legal entity or business entity, or (ii) 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 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 Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision.

10 For more information on the impacts of the introduction of the new economic statistics units model, refer to Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from the New Tax System] (cat. no. 1372.0).

Comparison Over Time

11 Prior to the 2005-06 collection, the Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey used the management unit as the statistical unit. The statistical unit in the 2005-06 collection was the ABN unit for businesses with simple structures, and the TAU for businesses with complex structures. In most cases, ABN/TAU units concord with the management units used in previous cycles.


12 The frame used for the Retail and Wholesale Industry Survey, like most ABS economic surveys, was taken from the ABS Business Register. The ABS Business Register is updated monthly to take account of new businesses and businesses which have ceased employing.

Improvements to Coverage

13 Data in this product have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABS Business Register, and the omission of some businesses from the register. The majority of businesses affected and to which the adjustments apply, are small in size.

14 Adjustments have been made to include new businesses in the estimates in the period in which they commenced operations, rather than when they were processed to the ABS Business Register. Adjustments of this type will continue to be applied in future periods.

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


16 Historical comparisons have not been made in this product for several reasons.

Changes in scope

17 The scope of the survey has been broadened to include businesses classified to Wholesale Trade for the first time. In addition, the scope now includes non-employing businesses.

Change in industry classification

18 The estimates in this publication are based on the 2006 edition of ANZSIC (ANZSIC06) whereas estimates in the 1998-99 issue were based on the 1993 edition (ANZSIC93).

19 For more information, please refer to the Technical Note, or to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0) for more detail on the 2006 industry classification and concordances between the 1993 and 2006 versions.

Changes in commodity classification

20 For the 2005-06 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey, changes in the commodity classification to meet user needs has reduced the comparability of commodity data with previous collections.

Australian Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards

21 The new Australian Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (AEIFRS) were progressively implemented in Australia from 1 January 2005. As a result, changes in definitions have impacted upon both income statements and balance sheet items.

22 Since the implementation of AEIFRS, analysis of published time series data has indicated structural breaks in series. The magnitude of such breaks, however, cannot be determined without imposing a disproportionate load upon data providers. The ABS will continue to monitor developments and report any significant identified impacts as a result of AEIFRS.


23 When interpreting the results of a survey it is important to take into account factors that may affect the reliability of estimates. Such factors can be classified as either sampling or non-sampling error.

Sampling Error

24 The estimates are based on information obtained from a randomly selected stratified sample of retail and wholesale businesses in the Australian business population. Consequently, the estimates in this publication are subject to sampling variability, that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if all units had been included in the survey (that is, if a census was conducted). One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of units was included.

25 There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if a census was conducted and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.

26 Sampling variability can also be measured by the relative standard error (RSE), which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSE is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the sampling error in percentage terms, and this avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate.

27 As an example, an estimate of total retail sales was $240,274.5m and the RSE was 1.6%, giving a SE of $3,844.4m. Therefore, there would be two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, a figure in the range $236,430.1m to $244,118.9m would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 (i.e. a confidence level of 95%) that the figure would have been in the range $232,585.7m to $247,963.3m.

28 The sampling variability for estimates at the individual commodity level was generally higher than for retail or wholesale sales aggregates. Survey estimates for individual commodities should therefore be viewed with more caution than those for total retail or wholesale sales.

Non-sampling Error

29 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur in any type of collection and are referred to as non-sampling error. For this survey, non-sampling error may result from such things as deficiencies in the register of businesses from which the sample was drawn, non-response, imperfections in reporting and/or errors made in compiling results. The extent to which non-sampling error affects the results of the survey is not precisely quantifiable. Every effort was made to minimise non-sampling error by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems and the use of appropriate methodology. Survey estimates subject to a high level of non-sampling error have been suppressed or provided with relevant cautions.

30 Estimates that have an estimated relative standard error between 10% and 25% are annotated with the symbol '^' . These estimates should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% are annotated with the symbol '*', indicating that the estimate should be used with caution as it is subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are annotated with the symbol '**' indicating that the sampling variability causes the estimates to be considered too unreliable for general use.


31 For the 2005-06 Retail and Wholesale Industries Survey, there was a 90% response rate from all businesses that were surveyed and found to be operating during the reference period. Data were imputed for the remaining 10% of operating businesses. Imputed responses contributed 5.9% to the estimate of total income for the retail industry and 3.6% for the wholesale industry.


32 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the components and the total. Similar discrepancies may occur between a proportion or ratio, and the ratio of the separate components.


33 Data contained in the tables in this publication relate to businesses involved in the retail and wholesale industries in Australia during the year ended June 2006. Estimates include the activity of any business that ceased or commenced operations during the year.


34 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.


35 This product contains commodity estimates for the combined retail and wholesale industries at the national level. The sample for this collection was not designed to support reliable commodity estimates at finer levels of the ANZSIC classification, or for state or sub-state levels.

36 Financial data for businesses in the retail and wholesale industries at the ANZSIC Division and Subdivision level are published by state and employment size at the ABS web page for Retail and Wholesale Industries, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 8622.0). Group and class level financial data are available via spreadsheets attached to the same ABS web page.

37 Enquires for further information about the statistics presented in this publication can be made by telephoning William Milne on (03) 9615 7862.