Retail Trade

The Retail Trade sector comprises firms that primarily sell merchandise directly to the general public. In contrast to wholesalers, most sector operators are organized to sell merchandise in small quantities, as the retailing process is the final step in the distribution of merchandise.

Retail Trade

Output ($b)1 IVA ($b)2 Market Size3 Employment (m)* Wages & Benefits ($m)* EBITDA ($m)4
$340.7 $133.1 6/18 1,226 $43.8 $92.7

Sector Overview

The Retail Trade sector comprises firms that primarily sell merchandise directly to the general public. Retailers do not produce the products that they sell. Instead, retailers buy goods from suppliers and then resell these products to the general public. Establishments that sell products from the point of production are not included in this sector. For example, farms that sell their products at or from the point of production are classified in agriculture. Similarly, establishments that both manufacture and sell their products to the general public are classified in manufacturing. However, establishments that engage in processing activities incidental to retailing are classified in retail. This includes establishments, such as optical goods stores that do in-store grinding of lenses and meat and seafood markets. This sector comprises two main types of retailers: store and non-store retailers.

Store Retailers – This segment comprises establishments that operate fixed point-of-sale locations, located and designed to attract a high volume of walk-in customers. In general, retail stores have extensive displays of merchandise and use mass-media advertising to attract customers. They typically sell merchandise to the general public for personal or household consumption, but some also serve business and institutional clients. These include establishments such as office supply stores, computer and software stores, building materials dealers, plumbing supply stores and electrical supply stores. Catalog showrooms, gasoline stations, automotive dealers and mobile home dealers are also treated as store retailers. In addition to retailing merchandise, some types of store retailers are also engaged in the provision of after-sales services such as repair and installation.

Non-Store Retailers – Like store retailers, non-store retailers are organized to serve the general public, but their retailing methods differ. The establishments of this subsector reach customers and market merchandise with methods such as the broadcasting of "infomercials", broadcasting and publishing of direct-response advertising, publishing of paper and electronic catalogs, door-to-door solicitation, in-home demonstration, selling from portable stalls (e.g., street vendors) and distribution through vending machines. Establishments engaged in the direct sale (non-store) of products such as home heating oil dealers and home delivery newspaper routes are also included in this segment.

LARG Industry Reports

Los Angeles Research Group provides 60 industry reports detailing the Retail Trade sector. Each report contains detailed information on output, employment, enterprises, establishments, assets, liabilities and profitability. LARG’s industry reports also provide in-depth information on market share concentrations, business structure (e.g., corporations, sole-proprietorships, partnerships), key economic indicators, supply chain data, debt ratios and new entrant trends, including survivor rates (i.e., percentage of new businesses that last longer than five years).

In addition to LARG’s standardized report information, LARG’s industry reports in the Retail Trade sector also provide specialized statistics, including detailed information on customers, inventories and retail floor space. For more information on a particular industry, please click on the appropriate industry below.

Sector Growth5

Sector Cost Structure*


Retail Trade

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