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Retail Sales Data in the Woods & Poole Database

Retail Sales Data in the Woods & Poole Database

June 3, 2019

Data for retail sales by kind of business are from the 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 Census of Retail Trade (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census).  Retail sales data for 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, and 1997 have been adjusted by Woods & Poole from SIC classifications to estimated NAICS kind of business classifications to be consistent with 2002 Census of Retail Trade data.  The intervening historical data for the years 1969-71, 1973-76, 1978-81, 1983-86, 1988-91, 1993-96, 1998-2001, 2003-06, and 2008-11 are also estimated by Woods & Poole.  U.S. retail sales data for 1969-2012 are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis but are revised by Woods & Poole to be consistent with the sum of the county retail sales data for the Census years.  Therefore, retail sales data for the U.S. are the sum of county retail sales as published in the Census of Retail Trade and differ from the U.S. data published monthly by the Department of Commerce.

Some county data from the Census of Retail Trade are withheld because of Federal information disclosure policies.  All withheld data have been estimated by Woods & Poole.

In the 2019 Woods & Poole database total retail sales are modified to include food services and drinking places sales (NAICS 722).  The inclusion of food services and drinking places sales makes total retail sales more consistent with the SIC definition.

Retail sales are counted, as are employment and earnings, on an establishment basis. Internet and mail-order sales are counted at the point from which the merchandise is sent and not at the point at which it is received.  Retail sales are classified by kind of business according to the principal lines of commodities sold (e.g., groceries or hardware) or the usual trade designation (e.g., drug store or cigar store).  In some cases, an establishment sells goods in several different business groups, such as a convenience store with gasoline pumps.  In these cases, all the establishment’s sales are classified in the business group that is the primary activity of the establishment;  therefore, the retail sales data by kind of business does not reflect retail sales by merchandise line.

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