Dr. Ed’s
Economic
Indicators

RETAIL & FOOD SERVICE SALES

Release Date: Monthly
Release Coverage: Prior Month's Data
Released By: U.S. Census Bureau
Official Release (weekly): http://www.census.gov/marts/www/marts.html

The retail and food service sales release provides an indication of current industry level sales, specifically retail and food services companies with one or more establishments that sell merchandise and associated services to final consumers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau: "The advance survey sample of about 4,500 firms is selected by stratifying the companies in the larger monthly sample by sales size and major kind of business, and selecting the desired number of cases randomly from each stratum. Some 1,300 firms, because of their relatively large effect on the sales of certain industry groups, are selected with certainty."

Advance monthly retail sales reports are released about nine working days after the close of the reference month. They contain the advance estimates for the reporting month and preliminary sales data for the previous month by major kinds of business groups.

WHAT DR. ED SAYS:

This economic indicator is widely used and closely watched throughout government, academic, and business communities. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the estimates as an input for estimating Gross Domestic Product. The largest contributor to GDP is personal consumption expenditures, largely tied to retail sales data. In fact, the retail sector is considered to make up roughly one third of the aggregate U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve Board uses the estimates to anticipate economic trends. The Council of Economic Advisors uses the estimates for economic policy analysis. Businesses use the estimates to measure how they are performing and predict future demand for their products.

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