Wholesale Trade Survey



Wholesale Trade Survey

Alternate Title



Statistics New Zealand


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.

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.

2016 We made changes to the questionnaire used in the Wholesale Trade Survey beginning with the Wholesale Trade Survey: June 2016 quarter. We increased the number of variables being collected for the Wholesale Trade Survey. We began to collect information on earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT), purchases and operating expenditure, and salaries and wages.


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.


Wholesale Trade Survey – previous releases from Wholesale Trade Survey: December 2005 quarters



Implementing ANZSIC06 Classifications in manufacturing, wholesale, and services.





Economy, Wholesalers, Sales, Stocks, ANZSIC06, ANZSIC96

Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC06)

Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC06) en-NZ
Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC06) en-NZ

Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC06) is to represent series level methodological information regarding the Wholesale Trade Survey under the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC06).




Postal and tax contributions for December 2016 quarter

Collections data quality for Wholesale Trade Survey
December 2016 quarter
Postal Collection
Tax modelled
Contribution to industry
Value from imputed postal collection
Contribution to industry
Value from imputed tax
Percent of sales
Basic material wholesaling 57.1 1.9 42.9 0.8
Machinery and equipment wholesaling 40.0 4.1 60.0 1.5
Motor vehicle and motor-vehicle parts wholesaling 62.8 0.9 37.2 2.1
Grocer, liquor, and tobacco product wholesaling 74.5 0.5 25.5 0.7
Other goods wholesaling 34.1 1.6 65.9 1.6
Commission-based wholesaling 54.9 0.0 45.1 1.2
Total wholesale trade



Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC96)

Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC96) en-NZ
Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC96) en-NZ

The purpose of this data collection titled Wholesale Trade Survey (ANZSIC96)is to represent series level methodological information regarding the Wholesale Trade Survey changing to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC96).

Data Collection Date
1995 - March2010
Data Collection Frequency
1995 - 2010-03
Intended Frequency



Population covered All economically significant kind-of-activity units (KAU's) on the SNZ Business Frame (BF) that have an ancillary classification of ANZSIC Division F (Wholesale).

This Division includes all units mainly engaged in wholesale trade. The term ‘wholesale trade’ is used here in the broad sense to include the resale (as agents or principals) of new or used goods to businesses or to institutional (including Government) users.

Businesses mainly engaged in wholesale trade are wholesale merchants who take title to the goods they sell; separate sales branches (not being retail stores) operated by manufacturing enterprises; commission agents, import and export agents; petroleum products distributors; and co-operatives and marketing boards engaged in marketing farm based products.

Units mainly engaged in reselling their own goods by auction are included in this Division, but units which are mainly engaged in providing auctioning services for others are included in Division L Property and Business Services.

Units mainly engaged in selling their goods to non-end users are included in this Division, but units which are mainly engaged in selling their goods to end users are included in Division G Retail Trade. An example: a unit selling a motorcycle to a farmer for use on the farm is classified as Wholesaling since it is a sale to a business and the product is used in the farm production process.

In the case of units which have goods manufactured for them on commission or contract a variety of situations are encountered with different treatments applicable to each. However, in general, if a unit has no goods producing facilities itself then all its sales of goods produced for it on commission are treated for classification purposes as wholesale or retail sales, as appropriate.

Statistical Unit Kind-of-activity unit (KAU)

Statistical Units and the Business Frame The statistical units on the BF are Enterprises, kind of activity units (KAUs) and geographic units (GEOs).

Selection Unit Enterprise Enterprises on the BF considered for selection are those that have one or more wholesaling KAUs. Enterprises with more than one KAU (where at least one KAU is in wholesaling) are automatically selected.

Collection Unit Kind-of-activity unit

Under Coverage There are 3 main types of undercoverage

  1. Wholesaling activity at a level beneath the selection unit - KAUs on the BF are derived units composed of one or more geographic units. A geographic unit is a separate operating unit engaged in New Zealand in one, or predominately one, kind of economic activity from a single physical location or base. Some KAUs will have geographic units which are classified to wholesaling on the BF but because this is not the predominant activity of the KAU the KAU will have a different classification, for example, manufacturing. These KAUs are not eligible to be included in the Wholesale Trade Survey. Note that wholesaling KAUs that contain non-wholesaling GEOs have all their activity included in WTS. Therefore, as in this collections case, there can be some overcoverage too.
  2. Activity from units which are excluded from selection ie not economically significant.
  3. Activity from units who are not on the BF (eg those not GST registered with IRD), and very new registrations that have not been processed.

Population and Sample Size Postal sample approximately 1,100 kind-of-activity units. Administrative (tax) stratum approximately 13,500 kind-of-activity units. Population approximately 16,000 kind-of-activity units.

Seasonal Adjustment The seasonally adjusted series removes the effect of regular climatic or calendar events. This allows direct comparison between figures from different periods. The X12-ARIMA package is used to produce seasonally adjusted figures and trend estimates. All seasonally adjusted figures are subject to revision each quarter.

Trend Estimates A trend estimate is one in which both the seasonal and irregular components have been removed. Once confirmed, trend estimates reveal the underlying direction of movements in a series. Trend estimates indicate turning points more accurately than seasonally adjusted estimates. The wholesaling sales trend series is also calculated using the X12-ARIMA seasonal adjustment package. It is based on optimal weighted moving averages of the seasonally adjusted series with an adjustment for outlying values. Trend estimates towards the end of the series incorporate new data as it becomes available and can therefore change as more observations are added to the series. Revisions can be particularly large if an observation is treated as an outlier in one period, but is found to be part of the underlying trend as further observations are added to the series. All trend estimates are subject to revision each month but normally only the last two or three estimates are likely to be substantially altered.



Industrial classification
March1995 - September2010
Geographical Coverage Description

Nation wide, no regional breakdown.


Wholesale Trade Survey (pre ANZSIC96)

Wholesale Trade Survey (pre ANZSIC96) en-NZ

The purpose of this d ata c ollection titled Wholesale Trade Survey (pre ANZSIC96) is to represent the series level methodological information regarding the Wholesale Trade Survey prior to the introduction of the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC96 ) .




Statistical Units and the Business Frame Prior to the December 1996 quarter the survey was selected from the Business Directory (BD). The Business Frame superseded the BD in December 1996. The statistical units on the BF are Enterprises, Kind-of-Activity Units (KAUs) and Geographic Units (GEOs). These replace Enterprises, Accounting Units and Activity Units, respectively, on the BD. The underlying concepts are unchanged.



1963 - 1995

Extra Metadata

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