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Unformatted text preview: Changes to the Retail Sales methodology Craig McLaren, Office for National Statistics Friday 15 May 2009 Issued by Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG Media Office 0845 6041858 Retail Sales 0163 3455602 firstname.lastname@example.org Introduction The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles and publishes each month the Retail Sales Index (RSI) based on a comprehensive and broad based survey of around 5000 different types of retail businesses. The RSI is a key economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used to estimate consumer spending on retail goods and the output of the retail sector, both of which are used in the compilation of the National Accounts. The main output measures include value and volume estimates, in both seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted forms. The value estimates reflect the total turnover that businesses have collected over a standard period, while the volume estimates are calculated by taking the value estimates and adjusting to remove the impact of price changes. The value and volume measures of retail sales estimates are widely used in private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majestys Treasury, to assist in informed decision and policy making. This article outlines planned methodological and publication changes in the calculation of the value and volume retail sales estimates from the ONS Retail Sales Inquiry. A comparison between the currently published estimates and the estimates including all the methodological changes is provided for the All retailing estimate. User review and consultation It is important that the ONS retail sales estimates continue to be produced according to internationally recognised best practice and standards. This requires regular review and updating of outputs and methods used to calculate the final retail sales estimates, to ensure they are produced to the highest possible quality, while also meeting changing user needs and demands. The last major change to the methodology and production processes for the retail sales estimates occurred Office for National Statistics, Information paper 2 in 2003 (see ONS, 2003). ONS staff recently assessed these methods and systems processes thoroughly and concluded that they continued to reflect correctly the methods implemented in 2003. As part of the ONS continuous improvement process, a recent comprehensive user consultation and review was conducted from July 2007 to February 2008 (see ONS, 2008a). This user consultation highlighted potential areas of change for the methods used and publication material of the retail sales estimates. Feedback was obtained from a wide range of respondents, including key users such as the Bank of England, Her Majestys Treasury and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. As a result of this user feedback, changes to methods and release material were proposed, such as the introduction of annual chain-linking...
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