Retail Activity Survey

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The Retail Activity Survey is one of the rotating economic censuses/surveys linked to the Australian National Accounts within the ABS economic statistics strategy, and is in general conducted once every 6 years. The survey directly collects detailed financial information on the operations of Retail businesses in the public trading and private employing sectors of the Australian economy.

    For the 1998-99 collection, the feasibility of supplementing the directly collected sample with Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data to produce estimates for employing businesses was actively investigated. A decision not to proceed was reached following advice that there would only be marginal improvements to Standard Errors, but such an exercise would involve significant increases to resources.

    The main objective of the Retail Activity Survey (project 123) is to compile timely and high quality statistics for inclusion in National Accounts estimates. The survey provides detailed industry level data for the following purposes:

    • detailed expense data is collected to provide reliable benchmark data, with information from the Economic Activity Survey used to extrapolate for the years between the retail collections. This information is required to derive input structure estimates for reselling and repair activity separately.
    • commodity sales information is collected to enable the compilation of deflators. Specifically, commodity data are used to determine which price indexes are required and the weights to be used to combine them. The deflators are used to derive volume measures of turnover (which feeds into GDP(P)), stocks and the goods component of Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE).
    • margins data is collected to provide the 'bridge' between sales/output at basic price and consumption/input at purchasers' prices. Accurate margins information enables the balancing of input and output data.

    Secondary objectives of the survey are to provide information for:
    • market research and analysis by, for example, retail consultants, the retail industry, retailer associations; and
    • providing feedback to the Business Register on employment and ANZSIC data for the benefit of Business Register based collections, in particular the monthly retail survey.

    The scope of the Retail Activity Survey includes all employing public and private businesses in Australia, recorded on the ABS Business Register with a predominant activity of retailing i.e. ANZSIC Division G.

    Non-employing groups were not covered or included in the survey, however some non-employing MU's were included on the frame (these were generally part of a personally profiled group).

    Approximately 7,200 business units were selected using stratified random sampling techniques. Retail units selected in the Economic Activity Survey sample formed a subset of the Retail Activity Survey sample (100% overlap). All businesses (Management Units) with 50 or more employees and/or multi-State retailing business units were selected in the sample.


    Conceptual framework
    The Retail Activity Survey draws its population from the ABS Business Register. It is one of the rotating Economic Censuses/Surveys linked to the Australian National Accounts within the ABS economic statistics strategy.

    Main outputs
    Retail Industry Australia - (ABS Cat No. 8622.0)
    Includes details of Summary of Operations (Australian X Industry Class) i.e. no. of management units; persons employed; wages & salaries; turnover; industry value added; and selected operating ratios. In addition, the publication contains State/Territory details of income, employment, wages and salaries, number of locations and retail floorspace.

    Retail Industry 1998/99 Commodity Sales Australia - (ABS Cat No. 8624.0)
    Contains details of commodity sales and gross margins (Australia X Industry Class): components of turnover; commodity sales; and Other revenue.

    Using the Australian and New Zealand Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), businesses are classified to retail stratification industries.

    Food Retailing
    5110 Supermarkets and Grocery Stores
    5121 Fresh Meat, Fish and Poultry
    5122 Fruit and Vegetable
    5123 Liquor
    5124 Bread and Cake
    5125 Takeaway Food
    5126 Milk Vending
    5129 Specialised Food Retailing

    Personal and Hoousehold Goods Retailing
    5210 Department Stores
    5221 Clothing
    5222 Footwear
    5223 Fabric and Other Soft Goods
    5231 Furniture
    5232 Floor Covering
    5233 Domestic Hardware and Houseware
    5234 Domestic Appliance
    5235 Recorded Music
    5241 Sport and Camping Equipment
    5242 Toy and Game
    5243 Newspaper, Book & Stationery
    5244 Photographic Equipment
    5245 Marine Equipment
    5251 Pharmaceutical, Cosmetic and Toiletry
    5252 Antique and Used Good
    5253 Garden Supplies
    5254 Flower Retailing
    5255 Watch and Jewellery
    5259 Retailing n.e.c.
    5261 Household Equipment Repair Services (Electrical)
    5269 Household Equipment Repair Services n.e.c.

    Motor Vechicle Retaing
    5311 Car
    5312 Motor Cycle Dealing
    5313 Trailer and Caravan Dealing
    5321 Automotive Fuel
    5322 Automotive Electrical Services
    5323 Smash Repairing
    5324 Tyre
    5329 Auto Repair & Service n.e.c

    The product classification used in the 1998-99 Retail collection was formed by aggregating the 1100 or so products in the Input/Output Product Classification (IOPC), taking into account:

    • how products sold by Retail businesses are grouped in records
    • National Accounts requirements to comply with the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP)
    • requirements to comply with the Central Product Classification (CPC)
    • specific product requirements of Information Technology Section
    • specific product requirements of National Centre for Cultural and Recreational Statistics (NCCRS)

    The classification was produced in conjunction with that for the Wholesale Industry Survey to enable comparison of product information between the two surveys where appropriate.

    Other concepts (summary)
    The Retail Industry Survey uses ABS standard data items. Data is cross classified by the following employment size groupings:
    0 - 19 persons
    20 - 199 persons
    200 or more persons.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    No further geographic breakdown is avialble for the 1998-99 survey.

    6 Yearly

    Frequency comments
    Has varied but generally six years.


    The Retail Activity Survey was conducted for the first time in respect of the 1991-92 reference period and was an integral component of the 1991-92 Retail and Services collection program. The 1991-92 strategy involved the collection of data through two independent surveys:

    • a sample survey of 29,000 retail business units where detailed financial information on income, commodity sales, expenses, assets and liabilities was collected (the Retail Activity Survey); and
    • a census of 250,000 locations or shops known as the Retail and Services Census, where a limited range of data (wages and salaries, turnover, employment, floor space and usual weekly trading hours) were collected from every in-scope retail and selected services location in Australia.

    Prior to the 1991-92 collection, detailed retail industry information was sourced from the Retail Census (which has been conducted at 5/6 yearly intervals since 1948).


    Data availability comments
    Retail Industry, Australia - 1998-99 (ABS Cat. No. 8622.0)
    Retail Industry, Australia - Commodity Sales - 1998-99 (ABS Cat. No. 8624.0)

    27/06/2002 07:49 AM