Wholesale and retail trade and service activities

Retail sales, investment statisticsQ4 2013


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Retail sales, investment statistics
Topic: Wholesale and retail trade and service activities

Next release

Responsible division

Division for Business Cycle Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Establishment  is defined as a locally delimited functional unit which mainlyoperates within a particular industry group (Standard Industrial Classification).

Investments: All acquisitions of new business equipment/assets with a lifetime of more than one year. Investments in used equipment are not included, while total renovation and assets acquired from financial leasing are included. Operational leasing is not included. With this kind of leasing the ownership and responsibility for the object is not transferred from the lessor. Machines, fixtures, vehicles and other means of transport are reported in the quarter they were received even if they have not been paid for or capitalised in the accounts. For dwellings started before the end of the quarter, only costs accrued in the given quarter are included. Value added tax is reported in net value, which means that refunded VAT is not to be included, whereas non-refundable VAT is to be included.

Final investments: Acquisitions made by the establishments in a given quarter. The concept of final investments does not necessarily imply that the acquired material has been put to use.

Estimated investments: Acquisitions that the establishments expect to make in the short and medium term. These figures can be based on approved plans, anticipations, etc. They are usually more uncertain in the longer term.

Standard classifications

Machines and inventory: This includes for example computer equipment, cash registers, cleaning equipment, time clocks, alarm installations, video, TV, furniture, parts including assembly, and also tools with a lifetime of more than one year.

Motor vehicles and other means of transport: Motor vehicles, trailers and other means of transport.

New buildings and renovation: New buildings and total renovation of shops, storehouses, office buildings, manufacturing plants and social welfare installations.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC2007): http://www.ssb.no/nace

Administrative information

Regional level

National level only.

Frequency and timeliness

Quarterly. Published about 50-60 days after given quarter.

International reporting

Not relevant


Microdata, information about sample units and the population are stored in the programming language SAS in the short term and as text files in the long term.


Background and purpose

The index covers the development in estimated and final investments in retail trade. The statistics are published as indices as of 2008, including time series from the first quarter 2005.

Users and applications

The statistics are used by the financial and economic sectors, trade organisations and other users within wholesale and retail trade. They are also used by Statistics Norway's Division for National Accounts.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

Similar statistics exist for manufacturing, mining and quarrying and electricity supply. The statistics are used in the quarterly national accounts to forecast yearly national account figures.

The investment statistics are also published in the yearly structural survey for wholesale and retail trade. The difference is that the quarterly statistics only publish investments in new materials, while the structural survey also includes investments in second-hand materials.

Legal authority

The Statistics Act, §2-1, 2-2 and 2-3

EEA reference

Not relevant



All establishments in retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (SIC2007: 47.1-9).

Data sources and sampling

Quarterly statistical surveys (simplified questionnaire), the VAT register and Statistics Norway's Register of Establishments and Enterprises.

A sample of about 12 500 units is selected from the population of retail trade establishments in the VAT register, and consist of two sub-samples. This represents about a fourth of all units and covers approximately 70 per cent of the total turnover in retail sales. The sampling fraction and coverage rate vary within different main industries. The sample consist of two sub-samples.

The first sub-sample of approximately 1 500 units is selected from other existing establishments, i.e. independent shops and the remaining chain stores not yet included in the sample above. This population is stratified according to size in terms of number of employees. The sample is adjusted as necessary to ensure a reasonably even geographical coverage. The sample is rotated annually based on the second term of the turnover statistics. Establishments are retained in the sample for a maximum of four years unless they are part of a full coverage stratum.

The second sub-sample consist of about 11 000 chain stores with direct reporting from head office.

The statistics only include investments that the establishments pay for themselves. Investments made by property companies that rents out premises are not included.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Questionnaires are submitted via the Internet (ALTINN) for both the sample of establishments in the survey and the chain stores. Both establishments and the head office of chain stores normally receive the questionnaire at the start of the first month following the given quarter, and the deadline is the 25th of the same month. 

Prior to the statistical compilation, arithmetic and logical checks are carried out. Final investments are checked against previous figures for estimated investments. The respondents are contacted if there are indications of incorrect figures. Checks at macro level are carried out by the use of figures and tables. Later on, the data are compared with investment figures from the structural business statistics for wholesale and retail trade, which are published approximately 16 months after the given year.

As the sub-sample of chain stores with direct reporting from head office is based on a full count, the final investment figures are aggregated.

To calculate investment figures for the sub-sample of units selected from other existing establishments, a ratio estimator is applied to each stratum (3-4 employee groups per fivedigit sector level) to inflate the sample data to population level. The inflation of sample data of identical units is based on the ratio between the turnover of the population and the turnover of the sample. The ratio estimator uses turnover figures from the second term, the so-called base term, of the wholesale and retail statistics as auxiliary variables. The base term is substituted in October every year in connection with the rotation of the sample.

The establishments are divided into identical units and newly established units. Identical units are establishments with turnover in both the base term and the given quarter. Newly established units are establishments that have been established between the base term and the given quarter. The turnover in these enterprises is based on estimates as this information is not available. The estimates are based on information on newly established units in the past three years, as well as on the estimate for identical units in the given quarter.

Seasonal adjustment

Refers to the separate tab "About seasonal adjustment" on statistics website.


It is not possible to identify information on individual establishments in the statistics. The data collected from respondents are used in accordance with the regulations in the Statistics Act.

Comparability over time and space

Statistical releases older than 6 June 2017

The index series goes back to the first quarter of 2005 and uses the same method of calculation for the whole period.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Control routines are in place to try and reveal measurement errors (the respondent supplies erroneous data) and processing errors (wrong interpretation of figures and letters during optical scanning). Three types of errors are common:

*Wrong unit: The respondent does not supply investment figures for the establishment, but for a part of the establishment or the enterprise that the establishment is part of.

*Wrong survey time period: The respondent does not report data for the correct time period (quarter).

*Wrong unit of measurement: Figures are in the wrong unit of measurement (usually in NOK instead of NOK 1 000).

Reminders are sent to enterprises that fail to respond in time, and failure to respond is subject to fines. Large enterprises that do not respond are reminded via telephone shortly before publication. Non-respondents are allocated the same change in per cent in the investments as the average for the stratum that they belong to. They normally constitute about 3 per cent of the total sample at the time of publication.

The results are uncertain as they are based on information from a sample of enterprises. The sample used to calculate the index is updated annually. When the sub-sample of chain stores is included, the total sample covers more than 60 per cent of the population in terms of turnover. Errors in the sample may also occur as a result of errors in the information that the sample is stratified according to. Sample skewness and variance are not calculated.

The coefficient of variation (CV) describes the relative uncertainty in the calculated index, given the assumptions which are the basis of the calculation modell. The CV is given in per cent in relation to the calculated index. Normally, the coefficient of variation for the total is between 4-10 per cent in the investment statistics. The CV forms the basis for a confidence interval of 95 per cent, if the lower and upper bound are defined in the same scale as the calculated index.

Using the second quarter of 2006 as an example, the results are as follows:

  Calculated index CV Lower bound Upper bound
Total 98,7 5,6 88,0 109,5

Given the assumptions which are the basis of the calculation model, we can say that it is 95 per cent certain that the real index lies between the interval 88,0 and 109,5.


The published numbers are final.