Wholesale and Retail Trade Industry

The wholesale and retail trade supersector is made up of two parts: the wholesale trade sector (sector 42), and the retail trade sector (sector 44 - 45).

The wholesale trade sector comprises establishments engaged in wholesaling merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise. The wholesaling process is an intermediate step in the distribution of merchandise. Wholesalers are organized to sell or arrange the purchase or sale of (a) goods for resale (i.e., goods sold to other wholesalers or retailers), (b) capital or durable nonconsumer goods, and (c) raw and intermediate materials and supplies used in production. Wholesalers sell merchandise to other businesses and normally operate from a warehouse or office.

The retail trade sector comprises establishments engaged in retailing merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise. The retailing process is the final step in the distribution of merchandise; retailers are, therefore, organized to sell merchandise in small quantities to the general public. This sector comprises two main types of retailers: store and nonstore retailers.

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data show that wholesale and retail trade make up a large part of the nation's employment and business establishments. In the economy as a whole, wholesale trade represents about 4.4 percent of all employment and about 7.2 percent of all establishments; while retail trade is about 11.7 percent of all employment and about 12.9 percent of all establishments.

Current Employment Statistics estimates show annual average employment in wholesale trade during the 1994 - 2003 period was between 5,247,300 (in 1994) and 5,933,200 (2000). During 2003, wholesale trade employment averaged 5,605,600. In retail trade during the same period employment ranged from 13,490,800 (1994) to 15,279,800 (2000). Retail trade employment averaged 14,911,500 in 2003.

Employment in wholesale and retail trade

  • Annual employment of nonsupervisory workers in wholesale trade was 4,196,400 in 1994 and reached a peak of 4,686,400 in 2000. Employment of nonsupervisory workers in wholesale trade averaged 4,394,500 in 2003. In retail trade, nonsupervisory workers numbered 11,502,100 in 1994, and peaked at 13,039,800 in 2000. Employment of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade averaged 12,648,700 in 2003.

  • The annual average of the average weekly hours of nonsupervisory workers in wholesale trade was 37.8 in 2003; in retail trade, the corresponding average weekly hours number was 30.9 in the same year. For all private industry, the average was 33.7.

  • In wholesale trade, the average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers were $17.36 in 2003; in retail trade, nonsupervisory workers' average hourly earnings were $11.90. The average earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in all private industry were $15.35 in 2003.

Average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers in wholesale and retail trade

According to the Current Population Survey, in 2003, the unemployment rate of persons most recently employed in wholesale and retail trade was 6.0 percent, the same as the overall unemployment rate.

Data from the Mass Layoff Statistics program show that in 2002:

  • in wholesale trade, there were 150 extended mass layoff events, resulting in 24,205 separations of workers from their jobs, and 19,476 initial claimants for unemployment insurance;

  • in retail trade, there were 412 extended mass layoff events, 135,679 separations, and 108,419 initial claimants.

Employment Projections data indicate that wholesale trade employment will increase 11.3 percent over the 2002 - 12 period. Retail trade employment will increase 13.8 percent. Total employment for all industry sectors is projected to grow 14.8 percent.

Labor productivity - defined as output per hour - grew by 5.6 percent in wholesale trade from 2001 to 2002, according to data from the Productivity and Costs program; the growth in output per hour in retail trade was 4.5 percent. There are separate measures of productivity for many industries at the 4-digit NAICS level of classification.

The Producer Price Index program publishes data for many industries in the retail trade sector.

In 2003, there were 191 fatal occupational injuries in wholesale trade, and 343 fatal occupational injuries in retail trade; there were 247,600 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in wholesale trade, while in retail trade there were 620,900 nonfatal injuries and illnesses, according to data from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. In wholesale trade, the nonfatal injuries and illnesses incidence rate was 4.7 per 100 full-time workers; in retail trade, the incidence rate was 5.3 per 100 full-time workers. The rate was 5.0 per 100 full-time workers in all private industry.

Some businesses in this industry are:

Antiques Dealer
Art Dealers
Art Sales Custom Framing
Art Supply Store
Artificial Flowers Importers
Athletic Shoe Stores
Automobile Dealership
Automotive Parts and Accessories Store
Boat Dealers
Book Stores
Building Material Dealers
Business to Business Electronic Markets
Clothing Stores
Commercial Equipment Wholesalers
Construction Material Wholesalers
Crafts Stores
Department Stores
Durable Goods Wholesalers
eBay Business
Electronic Parts Wholesalers
Electronic Shopping
Electronics Stores
Equipment Wholesalers
Farm Product Wholesalers
Farm Supply Stores
Florists
Fuel Dealers
Garden Centers
Gasoline Stations
Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Stores
Grocery Wholesalers
Hardware Wholesalers
Health and Personal Care Stores
Hobby, Toy, and Game Stores
Home Centers
Home Furnishing Stores
Home Furnishing Wholesalers
Household Appliance Stores
Import/Export Business
Industrial Wholesalers
Internet Auctions
Jewelry Stores
Liquor Stores
Luggage and Leather Goods Stores
Mail-Order Houses
Manufactured (Mobile) Home Dealers
Motor Vehicle Dealers
Motor Vehicle Wholesalers
Musical Instrument and Supplies Stores
New Parts Wholesalers
News Dealers and Newsstands
Nurseries
Office Supplies and Stationery Stores
Outdoor Power Equipment Stores
Personal Service Wholesalers
Pet and Pet Supplies Stores
Pharmacies and Drug Stores
Prerecorded Tape, Compact Disc, and Record Stores
Professional Equipment Wholesalers
Retail Store
Sewing, Needlework, and Piece Goods Stores
Sporting Goods Stores
Supermarkets
Supplies Wholesalers
Tobacco Stores
Used Merchandise Stores
Vending Machine Operators
Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters
Wholesale Distribution

 

Information courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.