The Retail Trade Index shows the development in turnover within the retail trade sector. The statistics is published monthly and is primarily used as short term indicator for private consumption as well as the general business cycle movement.
Retail trade indices are published for 42 industries and for three commodity groups: food and other everyday commodities, clothing etc., and other commodities. Value and volume indices are produced. The volume index is made for the commodity groups and special industry aggregates for Eurostat. The statistics are based on survey data from all large retail trade enterprises and a sample of the remaining retail trade enterprises, which are requested to submit information about their turnover each month. Seasonal adjustment is performed of the three main commodity groups and the total.
Turnover figures are collected monthly from a sample of 2,000 retail trade enterprises, reporting the figures either by web or by dial-in. The submitted data is subjected to troubleshooting, e.g. by comparing the development in turnover in similar enterprises. Survey data is grossed up in part by including information from administrative sources on the turnover subject to VAT in the previous quarter. From the estimated turnover, indices on industry level as well as commodity group and total level are calculated. The total and the commodity group indices are seasonally adjusted.
Many users who monitor the current business trends take an interest in the published statistics of retail trade. The demand for the statistics is broadly based in trade associations, the bank and finance sector, politicians, public and private institutions, researchers, enterprises, news media and Eurostat. The statistics provide input to the quarterly national accounts statistics and to Eurostat's pan-European statistics. The users view the retail trade index as an important short term indicator, and it often gets a lot of attention in the media and amongst other professional users.
The overall uncertainty of the total retail trade index is estimated to be less than 1 per cent. On commodity group level, the uncertainty of the group Food and other convenience goods is about the same, whereas for Clothing etc. it can be up to 3 per cent and for other consumer goods up to 2 per cent.
The accuracy of the monthly growth rate is generally very high. For the total index, the uncertainty is estimated to be maximum 0.2 percentage points, while it can be a little higher on commodity group level.
Indices on the main commodity groups are published already 20-22 days after the end of the month. This is rather quick for statistics based on a survey such as this. One month later the indices on the most detailed industry level are published. The punctuality is very high with delays happening very rarely.
These statistics have been compiled since 1939, but they are not suited for long term time series analysis because of structural changes in the retail trade sector. The sample design and the calculation methods have been adjusted several times, last time in May 2012, where the time series back to 2000 where recalculated using new methods.