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Retail Trade Survey: May 2008
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 July 2008
Technical notes

Background to the survey

The Retail Trade Survey (RTS) is designed to provide short-term economic indicators of the retail trade sector. In addition, the data is used for the compilation of the retail trade sector component of quarterly national accounts (on the production side) and in the compilation of household consumption expenditure (on the expenditure side). The survey was last redesigned for the September 2003 quarter. For more details about the redesign refer to Retail Trade Survey – Redesign: September 2003 and the Retail Trade Survey – Survey design information paper.


The target population for this survey is all geographic units (GEOs) operating in New Zealand that are classified on Statistics New Zealand's Business Frame to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classifications (ANZSIC) below:

  • Retail Trade (ANZSIC division G)
  • Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants (ANZSIC division H)
  • Personal Services (ANZSIC subdivision 95 of division Q).

Only enterprises with a turnover of $30,000 or more are eligible for selection.

Industry descriptions

A geographic unit is included in an industry based on its predominant activity in terms of sales. For example, a footwear store will sell shoes and boots, but it may also sell bags and other accessories. The store will be classified to the footwear industry if most of its sales income comes from the sale of shoes and boots. The 24 industries are defined as follows:

 Retail Trade Survey Industry Descriptions
 Industry  ANZSIC code
 G0111 Supermarket and grocery stores  G511010 Supermarkets
 G511020 Groceries and dairies
 G0121 Fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetable retailing  G512100 Fresh meat, fish and poultry retailing
 G512200 Fruit and vegetable retailing
 G0122 Liquor retailing  G512300 Liquor retailing
 G0123 Other food retailing  G512400 Bread and cake retailing
 G512600 Milk vending
 G512900 Specialised food retailing nec
 Industry  ANZSIC code
 G0124 Takeaway food retailing  G512510 Fish and chips, hamburger and ethnic food, takeaway stores
 G512520 Chicken takeaway stores
 G512530 Ice-cream parlours and mobile ice-cream vendors
 G512540 Pizza takeaway stores
 G512590 Other takeaway food stores (including sandwiches and savouries) nec
 G0131 Department stores  G521000 Department stores
 G0141 Furniture and floor coverings retailing  G523100 Furniture retailing
 G523200 Floor covering retailing
 G0142 Hardware retailing  G523300 Domestic hardware and houseware retailing
 G0143 Appliance retailing  G523400 Domestic appliance retailing
 G523500 Recorded music retailing
 G0144 Recreational goods retailing  G524100 Sport and camping equipment retailing
 G524200 Toy and game retailing
 G524300 Newspaper, book and stationery retailing
 G524400 Photographic equipment retailing
 G524500 Marine equipment retailing
 G0151 Clothing and softgoods retailing  G522100 Clothing retailing
 G522300 Fabrics and other soft good retailing
 G0152 Footwear retailing  G522200 Footwear retailing
 G0153 Chemist retailing  G525100 Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry retailing
 G0154 Household equipment repair services  G526100 Household equipment repair services (electrical)
 G526900 Household equipment repair services nec
 G0159 Other retailing  G525200 Antique and used good retailing
 G525300 Garden supplies retailing
 G525400 Flower retailing
 G525500 Watch and jewellery retailing
 G525900 Retailing nec
 Industry  ANZSIC code
 G0161 Motor vehicle retailing  G531100 Car retailing
 G531200 Motor cycle dealing
 G531300 Trailer and caravan dealing
 G0162 Automotive fuel retailing  G532100 Automotive fuel retailing
 G0163 Automotive electrical services, smash repairing and tyre retailing  G532200 Automotive electrical services
 G532300 Smash repairing
 G532400 Tyre retailing
 G0164 Automotive repair and services nec  G532900 Automotive repair and services nec
 H0111 Accommodation  H571010 Hotels (accommodation)
 H571020 Motels and motor inns
 H571030 Hosted accommodation
 H571040 Backpacker and youth hostels
 H571050 Caravan parks and camping grounds
 H571090 Accommodation nec
 H0121 Bars and clubs  H572000 Pubs, taverns and bars
 H574000 Clubs (hospitality)
 H0122 Cafes and restaurants  H573000 Cafes and restaurants
 Q0111 Personal and household goods hiring  Q951100 Video hire outlets
 Q951900 Personal and household goods hiring nec
 Q0112 Other personal services  Q952100 Laundries and dry-cleaners
 Q952200 Photographic film processing
 Q952300 Photographic studios
 Q952400 Funeral directors, crematoria and  cemeteries
 Q952500 Gardening services
 Q952600 Hairdressing and beauty salons
 Q952900 Personal services nec
Note: nec = not elsewhere classified

Sample design

The survey population is stratified according to:

  • industries defined by the ANZSIC-based ANZIND classification at the inter-industry level
  • size (in terms of rolling-mean employment)
  • turnover (annualised GST sales).

Each ANZIND inter-industry contains between two and four substrata. Because of the contribution that large units make to the economic activity within each industry, they are all included in the sample. A portion of the remaining medium to large units is also included in the sample. In addition, small to medium-sized businesses have their data modelled from administrative data (GST) sourced from Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue data have been forecast two to three months ahead. All retailing GEOs belonging to a selected 'enterprise' are included.

There are approximately 70,000 retail outlets in New Zealand. Around 3,500 enterprises (between 9,000 and 10,000 GEOs) have been selected in the RTS postal sample. The postal sample is supplemented by GST data representing smaller retailers, approximately 36,200 enterprises (36,600 GEOs).

Sample maintenance

Sample maintenance is the process that maintains the sample over time, to reflect births, deaths and other structural changes identified on the Business Frame. The information for Business Frame changes can be from a variety of sources, including GST registrations and respondent contact.

New enterprises are identified when they register for GST. Once a month, the new enterprises are selected into the sample using the same criteria as for the original sample. These are referred to as births. When an enterprise ceases trading, its retailing GEOs are removed from the survey. These are referred to as deaths.

Enterprises can also enter or leave the survey sample if they are reclassified to a different industry. Reclassifications occur when an enterprise changes its main form of activity (eg from wholesale trade to retailing). These are usually identified in the Annual Frame Update Survey (AFUS) conducted in February of each year.

Sample reselection

The sample for the RTS is reselected each month to ensure the sample reflects changes occurring in the retailing population.

Measurement errors

Errors in the survey are divided into two classes:

Non-sampling error

Non-sampling error includes errors arising from biases in the patterns of response and non-response, inaccuracies in reporting by respondents, and errors in the recording and coding of data. The size of these errors is difficult to quantify. Statistics may be revised if significant errors are detected in subsequent quarters.

Sampling error

Sampling error is a measure of the variability that occurs by chance because a sample, rather than an entire population, is surveyed.



Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification system.


An ANZSIC-based classification used to group industries for publication.

Business Frame

A register of all economically significant businesses operating in New Zealand. The population of the RTS is drawn from the Business Frame.


A business entity operating in New Zealand, either as a legally constituted body such as a company, partnership, trust, local or central government trading organisation, or a self-employed individual.

Geographic unit

A geographic unit is a subdivision of an enterprise. It is a separate operating unit engaged in New Zealand in one, or predominantly one, kind of economic activity from a single physical location or base.  

Seasonally adjusted series

The X-12-ARIMA package has been used to produce the seasonally adjusted estimates and trend estimates for sales in all subdivisions. Seasonal adjustment aims to eliminate the impact of regular seasonal events (such as annual cycles in agricultural production, winter, or annual holidays) on time series. This makes the data for adjacent months more comparable.

All seasonally adjusted figures are subject to revision each month. This enables the seasonal component to be better estimated and removed from the series.

Estimated trend

For any series, the survey estimates can be broken down into three components: trend, seasonal and irregular. While seasonally adjusted series have had the seasonal component removed, trend series have had both the seasonal and the irregular components removed. Trend estimates reveal the underlying direction of movement in a series, and are likely to indicate turning points more accurately than are seasonally adjusted estimates.

The trend series are calculated using the X-12-ARIMA seasonal adjustment package. They are based on a five-term or a seven-term moving average of the seasonally adjusted series, with an adjustment for outlying values.

Trend estimates towards the end of the series incorporate new data as they become available and can therefore change as more observations are added to the series. Revisions can be particularly large if an observation is treated as an outlier in one month, but is found to be part of the underlying trend as further observations are added to the series. Typically, only the estimates for the most recent month will be subject to substantial revisions.

Regional estimates

In the October 2003 month, the RTS sample of geographic units changed. Data prior to the October 2003 month is an analytical back series, which has been derived to preserve industry movements at the national level. However, previously published regional movements may not have been preserved. Care should be taken when interpreting movements of regional series around the period of the redesign.

More information

For more information, follow the link from the technical notes of this release on the Statistics NZ website.


Information obtained from Statistics NZ may be freely used, reproduced, or quoted unless otherwise specified. In all cases Statistics NZ must be acknowledged as the source.


While care has been used in processing, analysing and extracting information, Statistics NZ gives no warranty that the information supplied is free from error. Statistics NZ shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.


Timed statistical releases are delivered using postal and electronic services provided by third parties. Delivery of these releases may be delayed by circumstances outside the control of Statistics NZ. Statistics NZ accepts no responsibility for any such delays.

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