What was the effect of Hurricane Katrina on U.S. total wholesale sales and inventories for August?

We cannot quantify the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the August 2005 wholesale sales and inventories as the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey (MWTS) measures wholesale activity on a national level and not in specific geographic areas.

The areas affected by the hurricane ordinarily account for a minimal percentage of total U.S. wholesale activity based on the 2002 Economic Census. Furthermore, the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the wholesale activity at the national level for August would be much less since Hurricane Katrina only impacted the last few days of August.

See http://www.census.gov/econ/www/Katrina.htm for data from the 2002 Economic Census for the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

How does the survey account for businesses affected by the hurricane?

Large companies with multiple locations are asked to report total U. S. sales and inventories for all wholesale locations, including locations in the affected areas. Most companies located in the affected areas had no difficulty reporting this month. MWTS accounts for missing data through its imputation procedure. This procedure makes use of data from companies that report both July and August data.

Was Census able to collect information from businesses located within the areas impacted in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama?

Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey


We mailed questionnaires to 66 firms in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and 64 were able to provide data for August.

Did you change your data collection procedures this month?

Yes. Our data collection staff asked additional questions with regard to the impact of Hurricane Katrina on sales and inventories as part of our regular follow-up.

Do you have monthly estimates of sales and inventories for the affected areas?

No. We can not separately quantify the impact on the affected areas because the MWTS is designed to estimate sales and inventories at the United States level only.

Did you alter the seasonal adjustment options for August?

No. The review of the seasonal adjustment output and diagnostics did not indicate that adjustments to the options were necessary for August.

How did you represent the August end-of-month inventories for companies that had inventories damaged or destroyed as a result of Hurricane Katrina?

Companies report inventories based on their financial records. Our review of the data reported by companies for August shows no significant write-downs to end-of-month inventories. None of them reported any write-downs for August.

What do you plan to do for estimates of wholesale trade for September?

During our data collection, we will continue to ask questions that will help us monitor any impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as part of our regular follow-up. We will monitor data responses and make adjustments if necessary.

Source: U. S. Census Bureau 

                Service Sector Statistics Division 

                Monthly Wholesale Trade