Variant of NAICS 2017 Version 3.0 - Labour Force

8.2.1 - Wholesale and retail trade

This classification variant comprises establishments coded to 'Wholesale trade' (NAICS 41) and to 'Retail trade' (NAICS 44-45).

Wholesale trade comprises establishments primarily engaged in wholesaling merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise.

The wholesaling process is an intermediate step in the distribution of goods. Many wholesalers are organized to sell merchandise in large quantities to retailers, and business and institutional clients. However, some wholesalers, in particular those that supply non-consumer capital goods, sell merchandise in single units to final users.

Sales of capital goods or durable non-consumer goods used in the production of goods and services, such as farm machinery and equipment, heavy duty trucks, and industrial machinery, are always included in wholesale trade.

Wholesalers sell merchandise to other businesses and normally operate from a warehouse or office. These warehouses and offices are characterized by having little or no display of merchandise. In addition, neither the design nor the location of the premises is intended to solicit walk-in traffic. Wholesalers do not normally use advertising directed to the general public. Customers are generally reached initially via telephone, in-person marketing, or by specialized advertising that may include Internet and other electronic means. Follow-up are either vendor-initiated or client initiated, generally based on previous sales, and typically exhibit strong ties between sellers and buyers.

This sector comprises two main types of wholesalers: merchant wholesalers that sell goods on own account and wholesale electronic markets, agents, and brokers that arrange sales and purchases for others generally for a commission or fee.

Merchants wholesalers

Merchant wholesalers buy and sell merchandise on their own account, that is, they take title to the goods they sell. They generally operate from warehouse or office locations and they may ship from their own inventory or arrange for the shipment of goods directly from the supplier to the client. In addition to the sale of goods, they may provide, or arrange for the provision of, logistics, marketing and support services, such as packaging and labelling, inventory management, shipping, handling of warranty claims, in-store or co-op promotions, and product training.

Merchants wholesalers are known by a variety of trade designations depending on their relationship with suppliers or customers, or the distribution method they employ. Examples include wholesale merchants, wholesale distributors, drop shippers, rack-jobbers, import-export merchants, and banner wholesalers.

Included as merchant wholesalers are sales branches or offices (but not retail stores) maintained by manufacturing, refining, or mining enterprises apart from their plants or mines for the purpose of marketing their products.

Merchant wholesalers also include factoryless good producers (FGPs) that completely outsource the transformation process but do not own the input materials. These units are in fact buying the completed good from the producer with the intention to resell it. These units may design the goods being manufactured, and may have some say in the manufacturing process. On the other hand, FGPs that completely outsource the transformation process but own the inputs are classified to the manufacturing sector.

The first eight subsectors of wholesale trade comprise merchant wholesalers. The grouping of these establishments into industry groups and industries is based on the merchandise line or lines supplied by the wholesaler.

Business-to business electronic markets, and agents and brokers

Business-to business electronic markets, and wholesale trade agents and brokers arrange for the purchase or sale of goods owned by others, generally for a commission or fee. They are known as business-to-business (B2B) electronic markets, wholesale trade agents and brokers, commission merchants, import-export agents and brokers, auction companies, and manufacturer's representatives. These establishments operate from offices and generally do not own or handle the goods they sell.

Retail trade comprises establishments primarily engaged in retailing merchandise, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandise.

The retailing process is the final step in the distribution of merchandise; retailers are therefore organized to sell merchandise in small quantities to the general public. This sector comprises two main types of retailers, store and non-store retailers. Their main characteristics are described below.

Store retailers

Store retailers operate fixed point-of-sale locations, located and designed to attract a high volume of walk-in customers. In general, retail stores have extensive displays of merchandise and use mass-media advertising to attract customers. They typically sell merchandise to the general public for personal or household consumption, but some also serve businesses and institutions. These include establishments such as office supplies stores, computer and software stores, gasoline stations, building material dealers, plumbing supplies stores and electrical supplies stores.

In addition to selling merchandise, some types of store retailers are also engaged in the provision of after-sales services, such as repair and installation. For example, new automobile dealers, electronics and appliance stores and musical instrument and supplies stores often provide repair services, while floor covering stores and window treatment stores often provide installation services. As a general rule, establishments engaged in retailing merchandise and providing after sales services are classified in this sector.

Catalogue sales showrooms, gasoline service stations, and mobile home dealers are treated as store retailers.

Non-store retailers

Non-store retailers, like store retailers, are organized to serve the general public, but their retailing methods differ. They reach customers and market merchandise with methods such as, the broadcasting of infomercials, the broadcasting and publishing of direct-response advertising, the publishing of traditional and electronic catalogues, door-to-door solicitation, in-home demonstration, temporary displaying of merchandise (stalls) and distribution by vending machines.

The methods of transaction and delivery of merchandise vary by type of non-store retailers. For example, non-store retailers that reach their customers using information technologies can receive payment at the time of purchase or at the time of delivery, and the delivery of the merchandise may be done by the retailer or by a third party, such as the post office or a courier. In contrast, non-store retailers that reach their customers by door-to-door solicitation, in-home demonstration, temporary displaying of merchandise (stalls) and vending machines typically receive payment and deliver the merchandise to the customer at the time of the purchase.

Non-store retailers also include establishments engaged in the home delivery of products such as home heating oil dealers and newspaper delivery companies.

Variant of NAICS 2017 Version 3.0 - Labour Force - Classification structure
Code Title
41Wholesale trade Wholesale trade
44-45Retail trade Retail trade
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