Business Inventories

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Definition of 'Business Inventories'

The Census Bureau at the United States Department of Commerce releases the Business Inventories report in the middle of each month. Data is released for two months prior to release date. January's data is released in mid-March. Data are both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted.

The purpose of this report is to provide a broad and timely measures of combined changes in domestic retail trade, wholesale trade and manufacturers' activities.

The estimates in this report are based on data from three surveys:
  1. The Monthly Retail Trade Survey
  2. The Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey
  3. The Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders Survey
  • Monthly Retail Trade: Companies with one or more establishments that sell merchandise and related services to final consumers.
  • Monthly Wholesale Trade: Companies with employment that are primarily engaged in merchant wholesale trade in the U.S. These include merchant wholesalers that take title to the goods they sell, and jobbers, industrial distributors, exporters, and importers. Excluded are non-merchant wholesalers such as manufacturers sales branches and offices; agents, merchandise or commodity brokers, and commission merchants; and other businesses whose primary activity is other than wholesale trade.
  • Manufacturers: Companies that have employees and are classified in Manufacturing. Participating companies include most with 1,000 or more employees and a sample of smaller companies; changes in their performance are assumed to represent all employers.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the data in GDP estimates and the leading economic indicator series. The Federal Reserve Board, the Treasury Department, and the Council of Economic Advisers use the data to develop monetary and fiscal policy. The data are widely used by private economists, corporations, trade associations, investment consultants and researchers for market analysis and economic forecasting; and by the news media in general business coverage and specialized commentary.

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