Improving Retail Trade Data Products Using Alternative Data Sources
The US Census Bureau is exploring the use of alternative data sources to supplement and to enhance existing retail survey programs. Point-of-sale data is one such alternative data source that can capture detailed information about retail sales at the store level and at the product level. This paper details an expanded effort to test the viability of point-of-sale retailer data as a replacement for retail survey data at the national, store, and product levels. The viability of the data is examined through a quality review process which includes both visual and regression components but there are opportunities for improving this review process in the future as more data is acquired. While this effort has had positive preliminary results, there are challenges to using alternative data sources including high costs.
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.