NRF supports recommendation of ‘satellite account’ to measure retail performance

Traditional statistical measures do not accurately reflect the industry’s contribution to the economy amid increasing online shopping and other changes.

That’s according to National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, who backed a recommendation that federal agencies should create a “satellite account” to better assess the performance of the retail sector. (Satellite accounts bring data together in one place to provide a better picture of economic sectors that cross traditional statistical lines. They have been used to measure e-commerce and digital services, healthcare, outdoor recreation. air and small business, among other sectors, and the committee said these accounts could be useful examples for developing a retail satellite account.)

“In recent years, critics have argued that the retail industry is facing an existential crisis, that retail is not growing, and that we are – if we haven’t already – entered a global apocalypse. retail, ”Kleinhenz said. “This is not an accurate picture, and the analysis leading to this conclusion is incomplete. But why has this become conventional wisdom? The lack of government data accurately reflecting the retail sector is at least in party to blame. “

Kleinhenz said government standards that only consider employees who work in stores as “retailers” fail to capture the hundreds of thousands of warehouse and distribution center jobs that retailers have created in recent years. years to support the increase in electronic commerce. Likewise, the monthly retail sales reports do not break down e-commerce sales, making it difficult to count a retailer’s online clothing sales, for example, in total clothing sales through all stores. retail channels.

Kleinhenz’s remarks came in the June issue of the NRF Monthly economic review, which. focused on a request made by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics last year to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. The BLS asked the not-for-profit organization’s National Statistics Committee to assess measures of retail employment and productivity and to consider creating a satellite account that would better grasp the transformation of the retail industry.

Last month, the committee recommended the creation of a labor productivity satellite account that would be developed by an interagency team from the BLS, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau, each of which currently tracks or analyzes different retail statistics.

“The NRF has been a strong advocate for improving government agency retail data and has stressed the need to capture aspects of industry transformation that are not reflected in current statistics,” said Kleinhenz. “We hope that work on creating a retail satellite account will begin immediately, and we stand ready to bring the industry perspective to help launch this vital and timely initiative.”

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