Business and consumer surveys (source: DG ECFIN) (ei_bcs)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit C1: National accounts methodology.  Indicators.

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 21/03/2018
2.2. Metadata last posted 21/03/2018
2.3. Metadata last update 21/03/2018


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Six qualitative surveys are conducted on a monthly basis in the following areas: manufacturing industry, construction, consumers, retail trade, services and financial services. Some additional questions are asked on a quarterly basis in the surveys in industry, services, financial services, construction and among consumers. In addition, a survey is conducted twice a year on Investment in the manufacturing sector.

The domain consists of a selection for variables from the following type of survey:

Industry monthly questions for: production, employment expectations, order-book levels, stocks of finished products and selling price.

Industry quarterly questions for:production capacity, order-books, new orders, export expectations, capacity utilization, Competitive position and factors limiting the production.

Construction monthly questions for: trend of activity, order books, employment expectations, price expectations and factors limiting building activity.

Construction quarterly questions for: operating time ensured by current backlog.

Retail sales monthly questions for: business situation, stocks of goods, orders placed with suppliers and firm's employment.

Services monthly questions for: business climate, evolution of demand, evolution of employment and selling prices.

Services quarterly question for: factors limiting their business

Consumer monthly questions for: financial situation, general economic situation, price trends, unemployment, major purchases and savings.

Consumer quarterly questions for: intention to buy a car, purchase or build a home, home improvements.

Financial services monthly questions for: business situation, evolution of demand and employment

Financial services quarterly questions for: operating income, operating expenses, profitability of the company, capital expenditure and competitive position

Monthly Confidence Indicators are computed for industry, services, construction, retail trade, consumers (at country level, EU and euro area level) and financial services (EU and euro area). An Economic Sentiment indicator (ESI) is calculated based on a selection of questions from industry, services, construction, retail trade and consumers at country level and aggregate level (EU and euro area). A monthly Euro-zone Business Climate Indicator is also available for industry.

The data are published:

  • as balance i.e. the difference between positive and negative answers (in percentage points of total answers)
  • as index
  • as confidence indicators (arithmetic average of balances),
  • at current level of capacity utilization (percentage)
  • estimated months of production assured by orders (number of months)
  • Unadjusted (NSA) and seasonally adjusted (SA)
3.2. Classification system

Business and Consumer Surveys are compiled in accordance with the framework of the Joint Harmonised EU Programme Commission Decision of 15 July 1997 (C (97) 2241).

For the business surveys (industry, retail trade, construction, services), survey results are broken down by branches according to the Classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE), Rev. 1.1 at the two-digit level until April 2010. From May 2010 survey results are based on NACE Rev. 2 and are provided only as totals.

The sector coverage of the services survey varies across countries. From May 2010 services survey results are based on NACE Rev. 2 and are provided only as totals.

For the consumer survey, respondents are categorised according to five criteria: income, occupation, education, age and sex.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Business and consumer surveys are compiled for the following sectors: manufacturing industry, retail trade, construction, service sector, financial services, and consumer.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Business and consumer surveys provide essential information for economic surveillance, short term forecasting and economic research. Nearly all the questions are of a qualitative nature.

The following are brief definitions of concepts and indicators from the user guide of The Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys.

The industry survey is largely qualitative. The main questions refer to an assessment of recent trends in production, of the current levels of order books and stocks, as well as expectations about production, selling prices and employment. In addition, the survey provides on quarterly basis quantitative information on two variables that are not reported in conventional statistics, namely capacity utilisation and the number of months of production assured.

In view of the scarcity of national account data on building activity, construction surveys are an important source of information concerning short-term developments in this sector. The construction survey provides qualitative information, with the exception of one quantitative question on the number of months of production secured.

The information provided by the retail trade survey is entirely qualitative. Managers are asked about their assessment of recent developments in their business situation, of the current level of stocks, and their expectations about a number of economic variables (production, new orders and employment).

The purpose of the consumer survey is twofold: first, to collect information on households' spending and savings intentions, and second, to assess their perception of the factors influencing these decisions. To this end, the questions are organised around four topics: the households' financial situation, the general economic situation, savings and intentions with regard to major purchases. The consumer survey is entirely qualitative.

The services survey provides information about the managers' assessment of their recent business situation, and of the past and future changes in their company's turnover and employment. All the replies are qualitative.

For each of the five surveyed sectors, confidence indicators are produced to reflect overall perceptions and expectations at the individual sector level in a one dimensional index. Each confidence indicator is calculated as the simple arithmetic average of the (seasonally adjusted) balances of answers to specific questions chosen from the full set of questions in each individual survey. In order to be able to track overall economic activity, the broader Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) is calculated as a composite indicator, summarizing developments in five surveyed sectors (industry, services, retail trade, construction and consumers).

The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) is calculated in order to receive a timely composite indicator for the manufacturing sector in the euro area. The indicator uses, as input series, five balances of opinion from the industry survey: production trends in recent months, order books, export order books, stocks and production expectations.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit is either a firm (or an enterprise) or a consumer (an individual or a household) depending on the type of surveys.

3.6. Statistical population

About 137 000 firms and more than 41 000 consumers are currently surveyed every month across the EU. The nominal sample of the industry survey includes more than 39 000 units that are surveyed every month, while the biannual investment survey includes over 46 000 units. The nominal sample size for the services survey exceeds 44 000 units. In the case of the retail trade and construction surveys, the nominal samples consist of more than 30 000 and 22 000 firms respectively. In addition, around 1000 firms in the financial services sector in the EU are contacted each month.

For details at the country level, see the metadata sheets available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/metadata/index_en.htm

3.7. Reference area

The Commission publishes business consumer surveys data for European Union, euro area, EU Member States and 5 candidate countries (Albania, Montenegro, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia).

3.8. Coverage - Time

In general, data are disseminated starting in 1985. For some countries, the service survey and the financial services survey, information is only available for shorter time periods. N.B. The change to NACE Rev. 2 classification in May 2010 causes, per se, a break in the time series for all the surveys with the exception of consumer and financial services.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.


4. Unit of measure Top

The data are published as balance i.e. the difference between positive and negative answers (in percentage points of total answers), as index, as confidence indicators (arithmetic average of balances).


5. Reference Period Top

Most of the questions are asked on a monthly basis, but a few additional questions are added every quarter to the surveys in industry, services, construction and among consumers. Investment survey is conducted twice a year.


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Business and consumer surveys are compiled in accordance with the framework of the Joint Harmonised EU Programme. At present, this programme is governed by Commission Decision C (97)2241 of 15 July 1997 and Commission Communication COM (2006)379 of 12 July 2006.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Business and Consumer Surveys are forwarded routinely to the European Central Bank. ECB respects the embargo according to the Press Release calendar.


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The detailed Business and Consumer Survey results are published two working days before the end of each month by means of two press releases and are sent by e-mail to a selected group of news agencies. The first press release reports the detailed BCS results plus the confidence indicators and the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI). The second press release relates to the Business Climate Indicator (BCI). Both press releases are divided into two parts: a first part with comments on the main results of the surveys and a second part with detailed tables showing the results. The results of the consumer confidence indicator at the aggregate EU and euro area levels are published in a Flash release one week ahead of the detailed consumer survey results (i.e. around the 20th of each month).

8.2. Release calendar access

The publication calendar of the press releases is available on DG ECFIN's website at: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/index_en.htm

Additionally, a release calendar is disseminated in Euroindicators/PEEIs dedicated web section.

8.3. Release policy - user access

Data are disseminated simultaneously to all interested parties through a database update and on Eurostat's website (see "Accessibility and clarity" below for more details). However, part of the data may be circulated within the European institutions, especially the European Commission and the European Central Bank ahead of official release.


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Monthly and quarterly.


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Eurostatistics - monthly

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

All the data reported in the press releases plus additional data (long-time series, non-seasonally adjusted sector series and seasonally adjusted branch data) are freely downloadable (excel files) from:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/time_series/index_en.htm

You can also consult free data on-line from Euroindicators dedicated section.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Identification of commentary on the occasion of statistical releases: There is no official comment accompanying the release of the data.
Internet address: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The reference methodology for compilation is fully described in  «The Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys» .

All the information concerning the methodology used in each country for each survey as well as other useful information on the national organisation conducting the survey (such as the contact person) is available in the metadata section of DG ECFIN's BCS website at:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/partner_institutes/index_en.htm

10.7. Quality management - documentation

A list of 'best practice' for the conduct of business and consumer surveys is available under Methodological Guides in DGECFIN website.


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

The harmonised surveys are carried out at national level by partner institutes such as ministries, statistical offices, central banks, research institutes, business associations or private companies. The surveys are conducted according to a common methodology, which consists essentially of harmonised questionnaires and a common timetable. The participating institutes should ensure that the samples chosen for each survey are representative of the sector. The sample size must be large enough to provide reliable data. The survey samples are derived from a frame, which is supposed to register all the units of the whole population under question. Taking into account the various changes that might occur in the population (mergers, bankruptcies, starting of new firms, etc.), a regular update of the frame is necessary in order to keep it representative.

The financial services survey is conducted by one single institute that ensures representativeness for EU and euro area levels.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

The quality of the series is monitored on a monthly basis in the context of Euro-IND database.


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Business and consumer surveys provide essential information for economic surveillance, short term forecasting and economic research. Moreover, they are widely used to detect turning points in the economic cycle. The survey data generated within the framework of the Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys are particularly useful for monitoring economic developments at Member State, EU and euro-area level.

Outside the Commission, the ECB, central banks, research institutes and financial institutions frequently use the EU survey data for both qualitative and quantitative analysis.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

No available information.


13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

No available information.

13.2. Sampling error

No available information.

13.3. Non-sampling error

No available information.


14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

The timing is common to all the harmonised surveys. Fieldwork for the monthly surveys is generally performed in the first two to three weeks of each month and the quarterly surveys are carried out in the first two to three weeks of the first month of each quarter (January, April, July and October). Likewise, the questions that are asked only on a quarterly basis are included in the questionnaires in January, April, July and October.

The business survey results are sent by e-mail to the Commission at least five working days before the end of the reference month and in accordance with a predefined format. The deadline for the delivery of consumer survey results is generally seven working days before the end of the month.

14.2. Punctuality

Early data for the Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator (FCCI) is sent by email to the Commission as provided by a deadline at least one week before the scheduled full press release of the reference month. The FCCI for both EU and euro area are released on the date of the deadline.


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The principle of harmonisation of the Commission's survey programme aims to produce a set of comparable data for all countries. To achieve comparability between countries all national institutes use the same harmonised questionnaires.

15.2. Comparability - over time

All national institutes conduct the national surveys and the transmission of the results according to a common timetable.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

No available information.

15.4. Coherence - internal

No available information.


16. Cost and Burden Top

No available information.


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

In general, data are not revised. Exceptions are the industry, services, retail and construction surveys in France and consumer in Portugal. For the EU and euro area aggregates, annual revisions occur in January due to revisions in the GDP-based country weighting scheme.

17.2. Data revision - practice

For the EU and euro area aggregates, annual revisions occur in January due to revisions in the GDP-based country weighting scheme.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The harmonised surveys are carried out at national level by partner institutes such as ministries, statistical offices, central banks, research institutes, business associations or private companies. The financial services survey is conducted by one single private institute at EU and euro area level.

The Commission calculates EU and euro-area aggregates on the basis of the national results and seasonally adjusts the balance series.

The sample size for each survey varies across countries according to the heterogeneity of their economies, and is generally positively related to their respective population size. About 135 000 firms and almost 40 000 consumers are surveyed every month across the EU.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Six surveys are currently conducted on a monthly basis in the following areas: manufacturing industry, construction, consumers, retail trade, services and financial services. Additional questions are asked on a quarterly basis in the surveys in industry, services, construction, financial services and among consumers.

In addition, an investment survey of the manufacturing sector, which gathers information on companies' investment plans, is conducted twice a year.

18.3. Data collection

The national questionnaires may include additional questions, beyond the harmonised ones. Similarly, the sectoral breakdown in the questionnaires may be more detailed than the one set in the programme. The national institutes are also free to organise the fieldwork the way that best suits their needs. In particular, the sample design, the sample size, the survey mode, and other methodological considerations are left to their discretion.

Nevertheless, institutes are invited to implement the international guidelines on data collection and survey design developed by the Commission and the OECD in cooperation with the national institutes.

18.4. Data validation

Data received from the countries and the European indices are validated using logical validation rules.

18.5. Data compilation

The harmonised surveys are carried out at national level by partner institutes such as ministries, statistical offices, central banks, research institutes, business associations or private companies. The survey samples are derived from a frame, which is supposed to register all the units of the whole population under question. The frame can be created from official or statistical registers, or from membership lists of business associations and chambers of commerce. Taking into account the various changes that might occur in the population (mergers, bankruptcies, starting of new firms, etc.), a regular update of the frame is necessary in order to keep it representative. The coverage rate of the sample, generally measured via turnover or employment, indicates at which percentage rate the sample represents the frame.

The financial services survey is conducted by one single private institute at EU and euro area level.

The Commission services (DG ECFIN) produces aggregate surveys for the EU and the euro area on the basis of the aggregate results received from the Member States. EU and euro-area aggregate replies to the questionnaires are calculated as weighted averages of the country-aggregate replies.

The weights are the shares of each of the Member States in an EU (euro-area) reference series, and are smoothed by calculating a two year moving average. The weights are usually updated every year in January. The reference series are extracted from Eurostat and for the most recent period, where yearly reference series are not available, the Commission forecast is used.

18.6. Adjustment

Once the balances per question for each survey at the aggregate (country, EU, euro-area) level are calculated, they are seasonally adjusted. The Commission is currently using Dainties as the seasonal-adjustment algorithm, as originally developed by Eurostat. This method has yielded satisfactory results for business and consumer survey data for many years. The main advantage of Dainties is the absence of revisions when adding data at the end of the time series.


19. Comment Top

See the metadata section of DG ECFIN's BCS website at: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/metadata/index_en.htm


Related metadata Top


Annexes Top
OECD Handbook on Business Tendency Surveys
Financial services survey - Specific footnotes