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Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade and Food Services

The Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade and Food Services report, aka the retail sales report, about two weeks after the end of the record month at 8:30 am ET. The report presents preliminary estimates for the nominal dollar value of sales for the retail sector, as well as the month to month change in that value. It is available on the Census Bureau’s website.

The reason for the interest in the retail sales report is that retail spending provides a great deal of insight into personal consumption expenditures, the largest contributor to gross domestic product.

The Census Bureau compiles the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade and Food Services report from responses to a survey it mails out to approximately 5,000 companies about five working days before the end of the reporting month. The 5,000 are a subsample of the 13,000 or so companies polled for the later Monthly Retail Trade report. The replies are weighted and benchmarked to give an accurate representation of the more than 3 million retail and food services companies in the United States and indicates what these companies earned during the record month from sales and for providing services that are “incidental to the sale of the merchandise.”