What is the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions?
The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions (also Retail Monitor), is a new monthly measure of retail sales created in collaboration with CNBC and the National Retail Federation, and powered by Affinity Solutions. All information produced by Affinity Solutions is anonymized and aggregated and does not include any personal identifiable information of an individual consumer.
The companies’ new retail sales measurement tool leverages Affinity Solutions’ comprehensive data from more than 140 million credit and debit cards that tracks nearly 9 billion transactions, representing over $500 billion dollars in annual spending, to measure the monthly and annual change in U.S. retail sales. The Retail Monitor has been shown to be highly correlated with the U.S. Census Bureau’s revised retail sales numbers.
Beginning November 2023, the Retail Monitor will be released approximately one week prior to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Retail Sales figures, offering an accurate, timelier and more in-depth look at consumer spending across the modern retail industry and consumer economy.
How is the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, different from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales release?
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Advanced Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) relies on a survey of a sub-sample of businesses to create an estimate of broad-based retail trade activity. Typically released nine working days into each month, the MRTS numbers are later revised multiple times as new data from surveyed firms comes in.
While MRTS has long been an established resource for measuring the retail industry, the emergence of new sources of data and the blurring of traditional channels means it is time to re-evaluate how retail sales are tracked and measured.
Over the past few years, high frequency transaction data sets have achieved enough scale, accuracy and reliability to serve as a legitimate tool for calculating retail sales. Using data from Affinity Solutions on actual consumer spending, the Retail Monitor can deliver near real-time views of retail sales while also bypassing the revision process that is required for survey-based tools.
How accurate is the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions?
The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, uses the same seasonalization approach as the U.S. Census Bureau and has been shown to be highly correlated with Census’ revised retail sales — the adjusted numbers published after the initial MRTS release as new data is collected and numbers are refined. Unlike MRTS, the Retail Monitor is not revised after its initial release.
CNBC, NRF and Affinity Solutions collaborated with leading economists and retail experts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the Retail Monitor’s methodology. The Retail Monitor has been shown to have a correlation of over 98% with MRTS. In addition, the Affinity Solutions data set has been fire-tested and reviewed by academics and financial firms that attest to the accuracy of the data in predicting and tracking retail sales.
The Retail Monitor will add significant new data to the conversation to better help markets, analysts and economists gauge the state of the retail industry and the consumer and provide unique insights into the retail economy. All information produced by Affinity Solutions is anonymized and aggregated and does not include any personal identifiable information of an individual consumer.
What does the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, measure?
The Retail Monitor data offers a headline “month-over-month” look at retail sales performance as well as “year-over-year” figures for the following:
- Total retail sales (excluding auto, gas)
- Core retail sales (excluding auto, gas and restaurants)
- 9 distinct retail sectors plus restaurants
Beginning in 2024, NRF members will have exclusive access to insights on how key demographics and channels are performing for specific retail sectors. Click here to learn more about how to become an NRF member.
Are there sourcing requirements for use of the data?
Yes. Any data used or pulled from the retail monitor must be sourced “CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions.”
On second reference, you can shorten to “CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor.”
On third reference, you can shorten to “Retail Monitor.”
How do I get access to more data on specific businesses or sectors?
The Retail Monitor is powered by Affinity Solutions, the leading consumer purchase insights company. Affinity Solutions’ full suite of offerings goes beyond retail trends to empower companies with tailored insights for a particular brand, competitor and/or category.
To learn more about the full spectrum of insights that Affinity Solutions offers, click here to request more information or schedule a demo.
How is the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, calculated?
The Retail Monitor leverages Comet™, Affinity Solutions’ insights platform to analyze retail sales across the United States. Comet™ provides dynamic and accurate consumer spending insights by ingesting, segmenting and processing data from over 140 million permissioned credit and debit card transactions.
All metrics referenced are calculated based on Affinity’s full comprehensive dataset and are seasonally adjusted where specified. Seasonal adjustments align our process with the established methods of the U.S. Census Bureau, promoting consistency and reliability. With this approach, the Retail Monitor delivers a timely, data-driven snapshot of retail health that resonates with the Census’ own revised retail data. All information produced by Affinity Solutions is anonymized and aggregated and does not include any personal identifiable information of an individual consumer.
The National Retail Federation passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail succeed. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.
CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news, providing real-time financial market coverage and business content consumed by more than half a billion people per month across all platforms. The network’s 15 live hours a day of news programming in North America (weekdays from 5:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC’s global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of reality programming, CNBC’s highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries.
CNBC also offers content through its vast portfolio of digital products such as: CNBC.com, which provides financial market news and information to CNBC’s investor audience; CNBC Make It, a digital destination focused on making you smarter about how you earn, save and spend your money; CNBC PRO, a premium service that provides in-depth access to Wall Street; a suite of CNBC mobile apps for iOS and Android devices; Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri voice interfaces; and streaming services including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Smart TVs. To learn more, visit https://www.cnbc.com/digital-products/.
Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBCUniversal Media Village Web site at https://www.nbcumv.com/programming/cnbc. For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit https://www.NBCUniversal.com.
About Affinity Solutions
Affinity Solutions (Affinity) is the leading consumer purchase insights company that provides a complete view of U.S. consumer spending, across and between brands, via exclusive access to fully permissioned data from over 140 million debit and credit cards. This data is transformed into actionable insights for marketers, consultancies and financial services companies to drive market share and revenue growth. Affinity powers Comet™, a powerful data-led intelligence platform that enables marketers to effortlessly plan, activate and measure with complete confidence by linking campaigns to the outcome that matters most: consumer purchase. For more information visit www.affinitysolutions.com.