A Satellite Account to
Measure the Retail
Organizational, Conceptual, and
Panel on Measuring the Transformation of
Retail Trade and Related Activities
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, under Contract No. 1625 DC-19-C-0009. Support for the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation, a National Agricultural Statistics Service cooperative agreement, and several individual contracts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-38153-6
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-38153-3
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26101
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2021). A Satellite Account to Measure the Retail Transformation: Organizational, Conceptual, and Data Foundations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26101.
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PANEL ON MEASURING THE TRANSFORMATION OF RETAIL TRADE AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
J. STEVEN LANDEFELD (Chair), Consultant and former director, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Washington, DC
CAROL A. CORRADO, The Conference Board, Washington, DC
GREGORY DUNCAN, Amazon and University of Washington
TERESA C. FORT, Dartmouth College
JOHN C. HALTIWANGER, University of Maryland, College Park
DALE W. JORGENSON, Harvard University
MICHAEL MANDEL, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, DC
KELLY MCCONVILLE, Reed College
LEONARD I. NAKAMURA, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
WESLEY YUNG, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
STUART ELLIOTT, Co-study Director
NANCY KIRKENDALL, Co-study Director
ANTHONY MANN, Program Associate
ELLIS GRIMES, Senior Program Assistant
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
ROBERT M. GROVES (Chair), Office of the Provost, Georgetown University
LAWRENCE D. BOBO, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
ANNE C. CASE, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
MICK P. COUPER, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
JANET M. CURRIE, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
DIANA FARRELL, JPMorgan Chase Institute, Washington, DC
ROBERT GOERGE, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
ERICA L. GROSHEN, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
HILARY HOYNES, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
DANIEL KIFER, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
SHARON LOHR, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Emerita
JEROME P. REITER, Department of Statistical Science, Duke University
JUDITH A. SELTZER, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles
C. MATTHEW SNIPP, School of the Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University
ELIZABETH A. STUART, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
JEANNETTE WING, Data Science Institute and Computer Science Department, Columbia University
BRIAN HARRIS-KOJETIN, Director
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Senior Scholar
This report reflects the contributions of many colleagues who generously gave their time and expert advice in helping prepare the panel’s report on measuring the transformation of retail trade and its activities.
The panel thanks Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Commissioner William Beach and Associate Commissioner Lucy Eldridge for their help in understanding the challenges confronting measurement of retail trade and in shaping the scope of the study. We also thank BLS staff, in particular the panel’s main contacts at BLS—Jenny Rudd, Chris Sparks, and Chris Manning—who worked within BLS to find answers to questions the panel raised throughout the study; Chet Myers, Jenny Rudd, Kandi Miller, and Brian Chansky for their background briefings at the first panel meeting; and Ken Robertson, Matthew Russell, Brian Chansky, Brendan Williams, Bonnie Murphy, and Dominic Smith for their presentations and discussions at the panel’s workshop, which helped us to understand key conceptual, methodological, and source-data issues.
The panel also benefited greatly from presentations on topics central to the panel’s charge in measuring the transformation of retail trade, made by experts from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) (Jon D. Samuels, Tina Highfill, and Ana Aizcorbe) and the Census Bureau (Emek Basker, Ian Thomas, and Edward Watkins). A number of other experts at BEA and Census also helped in providing important insights in understanding current and alternative estimates of retail trade; in particular, I was greatly helped by Erich Strassner, Edward Morgan, and Thomas Howells at BEA.
We are also grateful for the presentations by, and discussions with, experts from academia, business, international organizations, and the
Federal Reserve Board. These experts provided perspective on researchers’ and other data users’ views of the forces transforming retail trade, the statistical challenges in measuring the change, and suggestions for addressing needed changes in measurement: Chad Syverson (University of Chicago), Steve Noble (McKinsey and Company), Jack Kleinhenz (National Retail Federation), Drew Spata (Macy’s), David Glick (FLEXE), Richard Phillips (Yale Divinity School and former CEO of Pilot Freight Services), Anne Goodchild (University of Washington), Leland Crane (Federal Reserve Board), Phillip Smith (Statistics Canada), Marshall Reinsdorf (International Monetary Fund), and Robert Feenstra (University of California, Davis).
The panel could not have conducted its work efficiently without the capable staff of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, including Brian Harris-Kojetin, director of CNSTAT, and Constance Citro, senior scholar, who helped in framing the task for the panel, advising on specific issues during the panel study, and making important suggestions on the presentation of the panel conclusions and recommendations. Nancy Kirkendall and Stuart Elliott did an outstanding job in working with the panel to distill and summarize a broad range of complex topics to support the conclusions and recommendations presented in the report.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like to add a note of appreciation for my fellow panel members who formed the core of the study team. Panel members helped in developing the focus, identifying and prioritizing the challenges and solutions, making presentations, chairing sessions, acting as discussants, drafting materials, providing detailed information in their areas of expertise, and reviewing and commenting on multiple rounds of workshop summaries and drafts of the report.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Emek M. Basker, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau; Thomas J. Holmes, Department of Economics, University of Minnesota; Thomas L. Mesenbourg, Jr., former U.S. Census Bureau; Colm A. O’Muircheartaigh, Harris School of Public Policy, NORC at the University of Chicago; Ariel Pakes, Department of Economics, Harvard University; Richard G. Phillips, Yale Divinity School, former chair and CEO of Pilot Freight Services; and Chad Syverson, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Charles F. Manski, Department of Economics, Northwestern University. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
J. Steven Landefeld, Chair
Panel on Measuring the Transformation of Retail Trade and Related Activities
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