Census of Trade

Census of Trade


a form of statistical survey that is used to obtain information on all the units in some sectors or all sectors of trade and is carried out according to a definite survey plan. In capitalist statistics censuses of trade are the only way to obtain complete data, because ongoing reporting encompasses only large enterprises.

In the USSR, trade censuses were conducted primarily during the formative period of Soviet trade statistics, serving as a planning aid at various stages of socialist construction. The first Soviet census of trade (1923) was a survey of urban trade, in accordance with the party’s task of gaining control of trade under conditions of the New Economic Policy. The first census covered three basic areas: the number of trade enterprises, the commodity turnover of these enterprises, and the number of employees, grouped by social sectors.

After the exclusion of private capital, censuses of trade were carried out to help organize Soviet trade. In 1930 a census of commodity warehouses was taken at factories, procurement centers, trade depots, and transportation enterprises. This census classified warehouses according to area, capacity, and commodity specialization. In 1932, a survey of the urban and rural retail network was conducted, providing a description of retail units by type, area, specialization, commodity turnover, and mix of trade cadres. (For the first time trade personnel were listed by position, length of service, sex, age, education, and social origin.) In 1933 a census of the food service industry was taken, covering the number of enterprises, type (dining halls, restaurants, buffets, and the like), commodity turnover, technical equipment, and composition of personnel. In 1935 there was a general census of trade that included both the wholesale and retail sectors. An all-Union trade census was conducted in 1949 to obtain a description of the condition of the trade network after the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 and to work out a plan for commercial development.

The system of ongoing reporting now covers all Soviet trade enterprises. Because of the range of its coverage, this system has eliminated the need for general censuses of trade. Occasional surveys are conducted to study particular subject areas. Examples of the occasional survey include the 1961 survey of the warehouse network of wholesale organizations and the surveys of specialization in state trade that were made in 1962 and 1969.