About the Survey

Each month, the Survey of Service Sector Activity is sent electronically to retailers, wholesalers, and other non-retail services firms. These companies are selected for participation according to their type of business, location, and firm size. About 200 contacts receive questionnaires and approximately 90 to 95 of those surveyed respond in a typical month.

Retailers provide information on sales revenues, big-ticket sales, inventories, and shopper traffic. Respondents at services firms also report on their revenues. In addition, both sets of respondents provide information on employment and wages, prices, and expectations for customer demand during the next six months. 

Respondents indicate whether measures of activity rose, were unchanged, or decreased since the last survey. The responses are converted into diffusion indexes by subtracting the percentage of reported decreases from the percentage of increases. Seasonal adjustments are recalculated annually in July to better reflect current economic trends.

For more information on the methodology behind the survey, refer to the Fourth Quarter 2015 article in Econ Focus or the March 2014 essay in the Economic Brief series.

The summary results of each survey are provided to the public on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Contact Us


Aileen Watson
Associate Regional Economist
(804) 697-7995


The expected demand indexes for the service sector, services firms and retailers from Dec. 2010 to Jun. 2016 are incorrect due to a processing error. For this period, the non-seasonally adjusted series for expected demand have been updated in the historical data for the survey but the PDFs will include incorrect data. Please read the document below for a more complete explanation.