Couriers and Messengers Services Price Index (CMSPI)

Detailed information for September 2022





Record number:


The Couriers and Messengers Services Price Index (CMSPI) is a monthly price index measuring the change over time in prices for courier and messenger services provided by long and short distance delivery companies to Canadian-based business clients.

Data release - October 31, 2022


The Couriers and Messengers Services Price Index (CMSPI) is a monthly price index measuring the change over time in prices for courier and messenger services provided by long and short distance delivery companies to Canadian-based business clients. The courier services portion includes deliveries within and between Canadian cities and provinces/territories, as well as some international deliveries. The local messenger portion tracks price change for within-city deliveries only. The CMSPI series is a useful indicator of economic activity for the couriers and messengers services industry.

Statistical activity

These indexes are a part of the Services Producer Price Index program (SPPI) at Statistics Canada.

The SPPI program develops and produces price indexes for a number of business service categories. This initiative fills an important data gap in the area of economic statistics, has resulted in a more comprehensive set of service price indexes, and allows Statistics Canada to produce more accurate estimates of real value added Gross Domestic Product and changes in productivity.

Reference period: The time period for which the CMSPI equals 100; currently this is the year 2003.

Collection period: The last two weeks of the reference month and the two weeks following the end of the reference month.


  • Prices and price indexes
  • Service price indexes
  • Transportation

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Coverage for the CMSPI targets the largest establishments of the courier sector, as defined by categories 4921 and 4922 of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The courier sector (4921) consists of establishments primarily engaged in providing air, surface or combined courier delivery services. Courier establishments of the Post Office are included. Local messengers (4922) comprise establishments primarily engaged in providing messenger and delivery services of small parcels within a single urban area. Establishment engaged in the delivery of letters and documents, such as legal documents, often by bicycle or on foot; the delivery of small parcels such as take-out restaurant meals, alcoholic beverages and groceries, on a fee basis, usually by small truck or van, are included.

Instrument design

The telephone interview questions were designed in consultation with industry specialists and businesses.


This is a sample survey with a longitudinal design.

In the case of couriers, the top five companies in Canada are selected to represent the industry. They alone account for approximately 80% of the operating revenue generated by the courier industry. For the local messenger portion, a subjective sample of establishments is chosen to provide provincial/territorial representation, although the index is published at the national level only.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

The data used to produce the CMSPI comes from several sources. In the case of couriers, price information is collected from company websites, where individual company rates or pricing schedules are available for downloading. In some cases, 'rate-finders', or online invoice calculators, are used to obtain price estimates. For local messengers, prices are collected by telephone interview.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Error detection is conducted at the time of data collection and also during post collection processing, using a set of systematized error detection procedures to identify outliers and possible reporting anomalies. Records that fail these edits are reviewed for editing and correction when necessary or edit failure may trigger a follow-up with the respondent.

Time and effort is devoted to keeping the specifications constant such that only the pure changes in price are tracked. Some information is also collected in order to ensure, as much as possible, that the collected data correspond to the same specifications over time. This constant quality price then feeds into the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA) estimates of constant dollar Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Missing data are generally estimated by a systematized imputation process. In any given period, price data may not be available for estimation. In such cases, missing data are imputed using the average price movement of remaining units within the same stratum (overall mean or targeted mean imputation method).


Prices are collected monthly for a detailed set of price specifications covering geography (i.e. origin and destination of service), type of parcel and type of service. The prices collected cover delivery services only. They exclude taxes and assessorial charges (such as customs brokerage, third party billing or call tag services) and other charges (e.g., cargo services, pick-up service charges, trace charges). For couriers, there are two service categories--overnight or next day, and other (two days or more). The industry will often refer to these as 'express service' and 'ground service' respectively. For local messengers, prices are collected for delivery time of one hour or less, and delivery time of three to four hours.

The aggregation weights for the CMSPI are derived from the micro-data obtained through Statistics Canada's Survey of Couriers and Local Messengers Industry, 2008. In the case of couriers, the geometric mean is calculated for the price relatives for the specified types of parcels for each company. Next, the shares of revenues based on the type of service (overnight/next day versus other) are used to aggregate up to the domestic and international destination levels, and then these series are combined to produce the price index for each company. At the company level, the re-calculated shares for each company are used to produce the final price index series for couriers. The re-calculated company shares reflect the relative shares of total operating revenues for only the top five companies.

For local messengers, the geometric mean of price relatives for two types of service is calculated (delivery time of one hour or less, and delivery time of three to four hours) to produce a company-level index. The provincial or territorial weights are used to aggregate up to a national index.

The shares of total operating revenue from delivery services are used to combine the price index for couriers and the price index for local messengers to arrive at the overall index for NAICS 492 Couriers and Messengers.

Estimates are produced by calculating a weighted average of price relatives by industry, which are chained together to form an index series. The CMSPI is a Laspeyres chain linked index, available at the Canada level only.

With the introduction of a new basket, historical estimates are linked to the new basket by maintaining the same historical monthly changes. This is done by calculating a link factor for each index series as the ratio of the new index series to the old index series in the overlapping period. This link factor is then applied to the old index series to bring it up or down to the level of the new index series.

Quality evaluation

An in-depth assessment of quality is conducted prior to the dissemination of estimates. This assessment is based on two key elements of quality (accuracy and coherence); as defined in Statistics Canada's guidelines for the validation of statistical outputs.

The survey's data collection strategy is designed to ensure that targeted response rates are met every cycle. Analysts pay close attention to this metric and take the appropriate measures to ensure that the survey's coverage is thorough. Particular attention is also given to ensuring that sampled products or services are representative of actual transactions taking place in the market. These two activities, fundamental to the overall quality of the estimates, are done consistently.

Analysts also undertake additional validation activities every cycle to ensure the coherence of survey estimates. These activities include the analysis of price changes period-over-period and the analysis of trends at the business/company, industry, subsector and sector levels, the certification of key contributors to price change as well as the confrontation of estimates against other related data sources. Contextual analysis of survey results is also performed in light of prevailing economic conditions.

Engagements with relevant stakeholders are also undertaken periodically. Forums involving other Statistics Canada analysts, industry stakeholders and partners at other national and international statistical agencies provide valuable insight into the development and research agenda of the program.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Collected data are converted to price indexes and data are released as such, so that it is not possible to identify the suppliers of raw prices.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

The most recent six months of published indexes are subject to revision. The index is not seasonally adjusted.

Data accuracy

The statistical accuracy of this index depends on price and weight data obtained from sample surveys. Each type of input data is subject to its own errors. Also, sampling errors occur when observations are made only on a sample and not on the entire population.

All other errors that arise from the various survey phases are referred to as non-sampling errors. For example, non-sampling errors can occur when a respondent provides incorrect information or does not answer certain questions; when a unit in the target population is omitted or covered more than once; when an out of scope unit is included by mistake or when errors occur in data processing, such as coding or capture errors.

The survey uses a methodology and processing procedures to control for sampling and non-sampling errors and reduce their effect on estimates. Consequently, the aggregate indices at all levels are considered to be statistically reliable.

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