NAICS for Retail Trade

Monthly & Annual Retail Trade

May 10, 2023 – 11:56 am


Annual Retail Trade Survey Methodology


The Census Bureau introduced a new sample with the 2011 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS). This new sample is designed to produce estimates based on the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). This section describes the design, selection, and estimation procedures for the new samples. For descriptions of the prior samples, see prior ARTS releases.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) to produce national estimates of total annual sales, e-commerce sales, end-of-year inventories, purchases, total operating expenses, inventories held outside the United States, gross margins, and end-of-year accounts receivable for retail businesses and annual sales and e-commerce sales for accommodation and food service firms located in the United States. Estimates are summarized by industry classification based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and are released approximately 15 months after the reference year. Firms without paid employees, or nonemployers, are included in the estimates through imputation or administrative data provided by other federal agencies.

Sampling Frame

The sampling frame used for the ARTS has two types of sampling units: Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) and large, multiple-establishment firms. Both sampling units represent clusters of one or more establishments owned or controlled by the same firm. The information used to create these sampling units was extracted from data collected as part of the 2007 Economic Census and from establishment records contained on the Census Bureau's Business Register as updated to December 2010. The next few paragraphs give details about the Business Register; the distinction between firms, EINs, and establishments; and the construction of the sampling units. Though important, they are not essential to understanding the basic sample design and readers may continue to the Stratification, Sampling Rates, and Allocation section.

The Business Register is a multi-relational database that contains a record for each known establishment that is located in the United States or one of its territories and has paid employees. An establishment is a single physical location where business transactions take place and for which payroll and employment records are kept. Groups of one or more establishments under common ownership or control are firms. A single-unit firm owns or operates only one establishment. A multiunit firm owns or operates two or more establishments. The treatment of establishments on the Business Register differs according to whether the establishment is part of a single-unit or multiunit firm. In particular, the structure of an establishment's primary identifier on the Business Register differs depending on whether it is owned by a single-unit firm or by a multiunit firm.


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