The Census Bureau Needs to Significantly Revise Reporting and Calculation of Its Online and Physical Retail Sales Figures and Commission an Independent Review

10 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2016

See all articles by David S. Evans

David S. Evans

Global Economics Group; University College London

Richard Schmalensee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Scott Murray

Market Platform Dynamics

Date Written: February 7, 2016

Abstract

This paper reports significant discrepancies in the Census’s methods and reports of online and physical retail sales in the United States. We recommend material changes in how the Census Bureau reports e-commerce and physical sales reported to it. We also recommend that the Census commission an independent review of its methods and reporting.

Keywords: Internet economy, e-commerce, Census retail data, online sales, data quality

JEL Classification: L10, L11, L22, L81, L86, M21, N82, Y1

Suggested Citation

Evans, David S. and Schmalensee, Richard and Murray, Scott, The Census Bureau Needs to Significantly Revise Reporting and Calculation of Its Online and Physical Retail Sales Figures and Commission an Independent Review (February 7, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2728918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2728918

David S. Evans (Contact Author)

Global Economics Group ( email )

111 Devonshire St.
Suite 900
Boston, MA 02108
United States

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Richard Schmalensee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

Room E62-525
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2957 (Phone)
617-258-6617 (Fax)

Scott Murray

Market Platform Dynamics ( email )

140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60603
United States

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