Wholesale stocks

What does the survey include?

These statistics provide information on stock developments in the wholesale trade sector. The index figure reflects volume changes of wholesale stocks adjusted for price movements. 

Target population

Businesses economically active in the wholesale trade sector (SIC 2008, codes 462– 467).

Statistical unit

The enterprise. Statistics Netherlands defines an enterprise as an actual participant in the production process of goods and/or provision of services, characterised by autonomous decision-making, regarding its production process and the provision of products and/or services to third parties.

This definition and the element of autonomous decision-making implies that a business can comprise various separate establishments, but also more than one legal unit. (A legal unit being a natural person or a legal person). This is the case, if one or more separate establishments or legal units do not operate independently.

Reversely, within a legal unit, it is possible for various parts to operate autonomously with respect to the production process. On the basis of the definition, these are all separate businesses. This situation is relevant when a group of large companies are engaged in an array of activities. If members of the group are located in various countries, the Dutch group members are regarded as one company.
Such a company  is referred to by Statistics Netherlands as a business unit (BU) to avoid confusion with the generic, less accurate term business.

The statistical unit business is used for a kind-of-activity unit as defined by Eurostat. This definition combines two requirements, which may be incompatible: contributions to a single activity versus agreeing with one or more operational units.  The Netherlands gives priority to the second requirement.

Since January 2010, Statistics Netherlands has changed the manner, in which BUs are made up from businesses and institutions prior to 2010. The results comply better with the way Dutch tax authorities view an enterprise. This makes it easier for Statistics Netherlands to gain access to other government services and tax databases to improve the quality of the statistical process. It also reduces administrative burden for businesses. For further information, see Changing the setup of business groups.  

Starting date of the survey

Data are available from the first quarter of 2005.



Publication strategy

As a rule, provisional figures become available two to three months after the report period; adjusted provisional figures are published one quarter later and after another quarter, definite figures will became available.
As response increases, the accuracy of the figures also improves and Statistics Netherlands can publish more detailed figures. Definite figures are only revised, if significant adjustments or corrections are necessary.

How is the survey conducted?
Type of survey

Businesses receive a questionnaire.

Survey method

Respondents may submit the required data online or on paper. Data are checked for plausibility.


Enterprises in the Wholesale trade sector with 10 or more employed persons with SIC code 46217, 4635 and 46711–46713.
Businesses in the Wholesale trade sector with 50 or more employed persons with SIC code 4621, 4635– 4637, 4642, 4643, 4646, 4647 and 4651– 46769.

Sample survey size

More than 2,000 businesses (enterprises) are surveyed.

Checking and correction methods

Statistics Netherlands conducts mainly plausibility checks on data received from businesses.  


Index figures and developments are calculated for SIC 3-digit codes. Subsequently, they are weighted and added up totalled.

Quality of the results

Since 2004, the state of stocks in the Wholesale trade sector has been added as an extra variable to the questionnaire of the quarterly turnover survey. Statistics Netherlands decided to ask for the book value of stocks as stated in the respondent’s administration. Advantage: the statistical burden for respondents remains limited. Disadvantage: the reported stocks are difficult to compare, as in practice there are different ways to value stock. As a result, the process of checking and correction is not very accurate.
The index figure is calculated as a so-called chain index. Quarterly developments are multiplied by the index figure of the previous quarter. Quarterly developments are solely based on businesses, which have successfully passed the plausibility test in both quarters. 

Quality strategy

The survey results are only published after having been subjected to plausibility checks. These checks include:
•  time series analyses (consistency over time);
•  comparison with results from other sources.