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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2016

Census Bureau Statement on How It Categorizes E-Commerce Sales in Its Retail Sales Data Sets

Release Number CB16-RTQ.03
Component ID: #ti2039525156

RESPONSE TO QUERY


JAN. 21, 2016 The U.S. Census Bureau's retail sales program provides statistics on all forms of retail sales, including e-commerce sales through the Monthly Retail Trade Survey and the Annual Retail Trade Survey.

The Census Bureau categorizes e-commerce divisions of companies with physical storefronts as part of the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry (NAICS 4541) as long as they do not primarily fulfill e-commerce orders from their stores. Companies provide separate information on their brick-and-mortar stores and their e-commerce divisions. For example, if an electronics store has online and brick and mortar sales, the online sales would be tabulated as part of the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry and the brick and mortar sales would be tabulated in electronics and appliance stores (NAICS 443). This is similar to how companies would split reporting between two distinct brick-and-mortar divisions, such as a company that owns grocery stores and department stores.

The Census Bureau never discloses information about specific companies. If companies do not provide data for a given month or year, the Census Bureau uses statistical methods to generate imputed sales and e-commerce sales values.

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions on the Quarterly Retail E-commerce Report  and Annual E-Stats Reports.

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Contact


Public Information Office

301-763-3030

pio@census.gov

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