Retail Trade Census

Monthly & Annual Retail Trade

May 10, 2023 – 11:56 am


Monthly Retail Trade Survey Methodology


The U.S. Census Bureau introduced the current samples with the 2011 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) and the April 2013 Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). These samples are 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 the Annual Revision of Monthly Retail and Food Services (formerly called the Annual Benchmark Report for Retail Trade), or prior benchmark reports.

Sampling Frame

The sampling frame used for the MRTS and the ARTS (ARTS) has two types of sampling units represented—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 multirelational database that contains a record for each known establishment that is located in the United States or one of its territories and has 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.

A single-unit firm's primary identifier is its EIN. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues the EIN and the firm uses it as an identifier to report social security payments for its employees under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). The same act requires all employer firms to use EINs. Each employer firm is associated with at least one EIN and only one firm can use a given EIN. Because a single-unit firm has only one establishment, there is a one-to-one relationship between the firm and the EIN. Thus the firm, the EIN, and the establishment all reference the same physical location and all three terms can be used interchangeably and unambiguously when referring to a single-unit firm.


University of California Libraries 1982 census of retail trade (v.48)
Book (University of California Libraries)


"• Manufacturing grew by 1,500 jobs, reversing its average 200-job decrease between July
and August over the prior 10 years. Nondurable goods, including food processing,
gained a net 900 jobs, while durable goods netted a 600-job increase.
• Trade, transportation, and utilities also added 1,500 jobs, exceeding its usual seasonal
gain of 200 jobs. Wholesale trade (up 1,100 jobs) reversed its usual 100-job dip at this
time of year, and retail trade grew by 400 jobs seasonally.
• Construction experienced an above-average seasonal boost of 1,400 jobs, primarily
within specialty trade contractors (up 1,300 jobs)

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