Retail Trade Margins Survey

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


The RTMS will be conducted quarterly and aims to measure changes in retail trade margins by State/Territory and Australia for selected retail specific product groupings - Supply Use Product Classifications (SUPCs).

The System of National Accounts (SNA) 2008 states that the output of retailers and wholesalers is measured by the total value of the trade margins realised on the goods they purchase for resale. A trade margin is defined as the difference between the actual or imputed price realised from the sale or disposal of a good purchased for resale and the price that would have to be paid by the distributor to replace the good at the time it is sold or otherwise disposed of. The RTM price index (RTMPI) collection is a means of obtaining this important information.

The retail trade margin price indexes are a measure of changes in margins of selected product groups within the retail sector of the Australian economy. The primary purpose of the survey is to measure the rate of change in the margins (sales less cost of goods sold) received by retailers for the service they provide. These indexes are mainly used by the ABS in assisting in the compilation of the quarterly National Accounts. The retail trade margin price indexes may also be used by external agencies such as the RBA and Federal/State Treasuries to analyse the transmission of price pressures throughout the economy.

Businesses involved in the purchase and resale of selected products or services to the final consumers across Australia. The Retail Trade Margins Survey will target large retail businesses involved in retailing activity of selected products. Medium or small businesses will only be included when the industry concentration selling these selected products is not sufficient to exclude them.


    Conceptual framework

The term trade margin is used to refer to the value of the service provided by institutional units when they engage in the activity of purchasing goods for resale (retailing or wholesaling). The 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA08) describes the conceptual basis for the measurement of the output of wholesale and retail distribution. In practice, the value of the margin from a retailing activity is given by: Margin = Sales of goods – Cost of goods sold.

Total sales and cost of goods sold are collected from retail businesses on a range of selected retail products (SUPCs) sold by them that make up the bulk of the retail trade (as measured by the Retail Industry Survey). This information is collected from selected businesses at the enterprise level by State/Territory/Whole of Australia as well as at selected retail outlets in each State/Territory where they operate.

Margins are computed from this data as defined above, and from these margins, a retail trade margin index is computed for each SUPC by State/Territory/Whole of Australia. Aggregated SUPC and total trade margin indexes will also be computed by State/Territory/Whole of Australia.

A discussion of the conceptual framework for the RTMS is contained in paper Experimental Price Index for Retail Trade Margins Cat No: 6402.0. (See Section 4.99 above)

    Main outputs

Proposed outputs for publication purposes (subject to confidentiality, reliability and fitness for purpose) will include:

1Total retail trade margin (index number & annual/quarterly % change) - AustraliaAll (a)As per Table 3 in 6402.0
2Total retail trade margin (index number & annual/quarterly % change) - by State/TerritoryAll (a)
3Aggregation of a selection of SUPCs - Total retail margin (index number & % change) - AustraliaAll (a) Outputs available subject to confidentiality.
(a) Subject to confidentiality/data quality assessment.

Supply Use Product Classifications (SUPC) as required by the National Accounts Branch of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, The current SUPC classification is SUPC09 and is based on ANZSIC 2006. This classification resides in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Classifications Management System (CLAMS).

    Other concepts (summary)
Refer to Experimental Price Index for RM 64020_2003 to 2006.pdf below in Section 5.99.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Not applicable.


    Frequency comments
    No comments.


The original Retail Trade Margins project conducted a small, targeted quarterly collection of retail trade margins data from 2002 to 2007, using a partial coverage collection methodology focusing only on large retail business units. Medium sized units were included only where industry concentration was not sufficient to exclude them and/or when the margins of large units were not sufficiently representative of those of medium units. The survey design excluded small units.

All businesses included in the original experimental collection were enrolled via personal visit. This was an active strategy to address data provider concerns relating to the confidentiality of margins data. This strategy ensured a high level of cooperation and quality of data from providers.

Data providers enrolled in the original experimental RTMPI collection were advised of the ABS decision to cease the collection early in 2008. Data collection ceased following the December quarter 2007. An historical series currently exists (for most SUPCs and total Australia) from December quarter 2003 until December quarter 2007. The survey was reinstated in mid 2009 when additional funding was made available to the ABS and following extensive consultation with users.


    Data availability comments

    07/10/2011 07:52 AM