Every two weeks the Census Bureau assesses the state of the U.S. economy in the “Business Trends and Outlook Survey,” with the aim of providing timely economic data and expectations of business owners and managers.
The survey queries approximately 1.2 million companies and collects info on a range of variables, such as current performance, revenue changes, employment, working hours, operating status, supply chain impacts, demand, and prices.
The survey’s retail sector consists of businesses selling merchandise to consumers without significant transformation of the products. The sector has two primary types: store retailers and non-store retailers.
Store retailers operate fixed physical locations and typically use mass-media advertising to draw customers. Non-store retailers serve the public through alternative methods — infomercials, direct response through media channels, electronic catalogs, door-to-door sales, in-home demonstrations, and more.
In July 2023, 16.2% of surveyed retail businesses — store and non-store — considered their current performance as above average. Only 6.3% characterized their performance as excellent.