Wholesale Trade Survey

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Wholesale Trade statistics measure the sale or resale of new or used goods to retailers, including businesses or institutional users (including government). Available statistics include total wholesale stock and sales by quarter, and industry.


The Wholesale Trade Survey (WTS) provides short-term economic indicators for the wholesale trade sector. We also use WTS data to compile the wholesale trade sector component of quarterly national accounts.

Citation Information


Wholesale Trade Survey

Alternate Title



Statistics New Zealand: Business Indicators


Statistics New Zealand


Statistics New Zealand

Coverage Information

Temporal Coverage

  • 2002

Topical Coverage

  • Economy
  • Wholesalers
  • Sales
  • Stocks
  • ANZSIC06
  • ANZSIC96



Significant events impacting this study series

History of the Wholesale Trade Survey from June 1963 to September 2002

The Wholesale Trade survey has been running in one form or another since June 1963. Beginning in June 1963 as Wholesale Trade (WHO) it included totals for both sales and stocks and also storetype information. Eleven storetypes were used: Food and Drink, Apparel, Furniture, Automotive, Hardware, Chemicals, General Merchants, Machinery, Electrical Supplies, Paper and Stationery, Miscellaneous.

This survey ran until December 1977, being revised in March 1977. The revised series was known also as Wholesale Trade, however the storetype information was not directly comparable to the old survey. This revised survey ran until June 1984.

In June 1984 Wholesale trade was covered in the Economic Survey of Distribution (WHL). This survey covered total stocks and sales but provided no storetype information.

The Quarterly Wholesale Trade Survey was introduced in September 1989. The sample size was increased to improve the accuracy and stability of the estimates compared to the Quarterly Economic Survey of Distribution. Data were published for total sales and stocks.

The Wholesale Trade Survey was redesigned for the March 1995 quarter. This redesign introduced ANZSIC as the industrial classification, as well as changing the collection unit from GEO to KAU.

In the March 1997 quarter the back ANZSIC and forward NZSIC series were revised. The back ANZSIC series had not been revised since the June 1995 quarter following the redesign. For more details on the revision and explanations for the cause see the March 1997 quarter occurrence and analysis reports.

In March 1998 Seasonally adjusted estimates were run for the first time. Seasonally adjusted data was made available back to March 1995 (the beginning of the storetypes series). Because the adjustment is indirect, seasonally adjusted (and trend) estimates are not available for the total prior to March 1995.

History of the Wholesale Trade Survey from 2002

2002 Redesign

The previous WTS series was based on a statistical sample that was first surveyed in the March 1995 quarter. The last quarter of the old WTS was September 2002. The WTS was a panel survey. Businesses had one chance of selection at their birth and those that were introduced then remained in the sample until either they ceased operation in the wholesale industry, or the panel was reselected.

Over time, sample designs become less effective in representing the current population as a whole. While the original samples are maintained to include a representative selection of new businesses, periodically panel samples need to be refreshed to reflect changes in the composition of the population.

The WTS has been redesigned to provide better and more up-to-date coverage of the Wholesale population. The new WTS design will allow changes in the composition of the population over time to be better represented in the survey.

Changes to the WTS include:

  • a redesign of the survey questionnaire
  • the inclusion of royalty and patent fees within the definition of operating income
  • the use of administrative (tax) data for small to medium-sized businesses in place of direct surveying
  • the adoption of periodic re-selection of the survey sample population
  • the use of bi-variate stratification in the sample design
  • improvements in non-response imputation methodologies.

These changes have been made to ensure that the future estimates produced from the WTS more accurately reflect activity in the wholesale sector of the New Zealand economy.

During the September 2002 quarter, the WTS was calculated on both the old and new basis. The primary purpose of this "dual run" was to enable the comparison of the surveys run under the previous and redesigned methods, so that the two series could be linked at a single point in time. This facilitated the production of an analytical back series for the redefined output industries. Another important function of the dual run was to measure level shifts in the results coming from the two different designs so that the results can be verified and explained.

The content of the questionnaire was reviewed with a focus on meeting the core data requirements of users, while being mindful of the burden that such collection places on respondents.

History of the Wholesale Trade Survey from 2010

ANZSIC06 redesign - Wholesale Trade division F

All business outputs of Statistics New Zealand moved over to ANZSIC06 classification for businesses in 2010.

Change in definition for wholesale and retail trade

The coding to the wholesale and retail trade divisions has changed for ANZSIC06. Under ANZSIC06, a business that sells to both businesses and the general public is classified to division F, wholesale trade, if it operates from premises such as a warehouse or office with little or no display of goods, has large storage facilities, and is not generally located or designed to attract a high proportion of walk-in customers.

Businesses are classified to division G, retail trade, if their customers include the general public and their premises are located to attract a high volume of walk-in customers, they have an extensive display of goods, and/or use mass media advertising designed to attract customers.

A business that sells to both businesses and the general public will be classified to the retail trade division if it operates from shop-front premises as described above. Businesses that sell goods from warehouse or office premises with little or no display of goods, have large storage facilities, and are generally not located to attract a high proportion of walk-in customers, will continue to be classified to division F, wholesale trade.

Activities moving in to wholesale trade:

  • Wholesaling of motor cycles, trailers, and caravans moves from ANZSIC96 division G, retail trade (previously included with retailing those products).
  • New ANZSIC06 class for commission-based wholesaling

A new class has been created for businesses engaged in purchasing and/or selling goods or services on behalf of others on a fee or commission basis. Under ANZSIC96 these units were classified to various wholesaling classes, depending on what the units were selling. The new class also includes:

  • Auctioning services (motor vehicles, furniture etc) previously in ANZSIC96 division G, retail trade.
  • Auctioning services (other products) previously in ANZSIC96 division L, property and business services. Real estate auctioning remains in division L.

Implementing ANZSIC 2006 in manufacturing, wholesale, and selected other services

Activities moving out of wholesale trade:

  • Converters move to division C, manufacturing (see discussion in division C above).
  • Due to the definition change noted above, a number of businesses previously in wholesaling move to division G, retail trade. These include:
    hardware and building suppliers that sell goods to the public
    motor vehicle parts dealers that have 'retail' premises.
  • Contract packing of groceries moves to a new class (N7320, packaging services) within division N, administrative and support services.
  • Car radio and air-conditioning installation moves to division S, other services.

In 2015, we made changes to the methodology used in the Wholesale Trade Survey beginning with the Wholesale Trade Survey: September 2015 quarter, released on 7 December 2015. The changes are intended to:

  • make greater use of administrative data sources
  • reduce respondent burden
  • introduce a consistent methodology and processing system across the quarterly Wholesale Trade Survey, quarterly Manufacturing Survey, and quarterly Selected Services Survey.
  • enable the delivery of information at lower levels of detail for research and customised requests
  • improve the quality of the published series.

Under the old design, we surveyed all the large businesses in each industry, plus a sample of medium-sized businesses. We supplemented this with modelled tax data for the smaller businesses.

Under the new design, we use administrative data (goods and services tax (GST) data, sourced from Inland Revenue) wherever possible, and will supplement this by surveying only the largest and most complex businesses. With this new design, we have eliminated most of the small and medium-sized businesses from the survey entirely.

The methodology changes have improved the quality of the series we publish. This is largely because we effectively have full coverage of all businesses within an industry, rather than relying upon a smaller sample to represent the entire population.

We have also reduced the number of variables being collected for the Wholesale Trade survey. We will no longer collect or publish separate figures for stocks of finished goods and stocks of raw materials.

See Methodology changes to manufacturing, wholesale trade, and selected services statistics for more detailed information about the methods used to calculate each of the variables.


3 Quarterly

Main users of the data

National Accounts (Quarterly GDP), economic analysts and forecasters.

Usage and limitations of the data

The objective of the Wholesale Trade Quarterly (WTS) survey is to provide timely, short term, key indicator statistics on the wholesaling sector of the economy. This provides a useful short term indicator for economic analysts and policy makers.

The data is also used in the compilation of quarterly and annual National Accounts.

Sales to stocks ratios may also provide useful comparative data for commercial users.

It should always be borne in mind that the data is taken from a sample survey and is therefore subject to sample error. On some occasions there are requests for data below the published, storetype design level which provides more detail. These data will be subject to higher sample errors than published statistics.

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