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TitleU.S. - How are RTFS, RRTFSQ, and FRTFSQ related?
AuthorKarl Zandi

What is the relationship between "retail and food service sales" concepts RTFS, RRTFSQ and FRTFSQ (historical, estimated and forecast)?



Monthly historical series RTFS.US is reported in the U.S. Census Bureau's Advanced Monthly Retail Trade Report (MARTS).  The concept is available only at the national level.  Figures are expressed in millions of U.S. dollars (Mil. USD) seasonally adjusted (SA).

Our quarterly estimated series RRTFSQ.US is based on RTFS.US and has the same units.  We convert the frequency by summing the three months in each quarter.  Subsequently, we estimate for counties, metro areas, states and census regions.

Our quarterly forecast series FRTFSQ.US is based on RTFS.US.  Its units are different: billions of U.S. dollars (Bil. USD) at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), which is the quarterly SA value multiplied by four.  Annualized rates confer the benefit of easy comparison between quarterly periods and annual total.  We forecast similar series for metro areas, states and census regions.

Why the differences?

It is possible for the values to differ between RTFS.US, RRTFSQ.US and FRTFSQ.US, because of the timing of updates.  This is a general principle applicable to all Moody's Analytics estimated and forecast series.

The historical series is published in the middle of each month.  We update the estimate once per quarter, when the three constituent months are available and regional quarterly income is made available .  The historical segment of the forecast series is updated similarly when the constituent months of the MARTS series is made available.  (The projected segment of the forecast is updated monthly.)

The historical series undergoes a small revision each month, and a larger benchmark revision annually in March.  Any difference will be larger immediately following the benchmark.

As a general rule, if you need historical data and you need it promptly, a historical time series is the best choice.  The historical segment of the forecast series exists to give context to the projected segment.


Notice that, in the comparable presentation, the historical and forecast series are equal.  The estimated series is not, and the update timestamps show why.

Attributes that have been modified for the comparable presentation are highlighted in yellow.  Projected periods and values are in red.

    Native presentation Comparable presentation
Units Mil. USD Mil. USD Bil. USD * Bil. USD * Bil. USD Bil. USD
Adjustment SA SA SAAR SA SA ** SA
Frequency Monthly Quarterly Quarterly *** Quarterly Quarterly Quarterly
Last updated 30-Apr-2012 9-Apr-2012 10-May-2012 30-Apr-2012 9-Apr-2012 10-May-2012
Month Quarter            
2011m01 2011q1   375,739  1,149,670       4,547          1,137            1,150        1,137
2011m02     378,934          
2011m03     382,094          
2011m04 2011q2   383,507  1,163,511       4,609          1,152            1,164        1,152
2011m05     383,447          
2011m06     385,266          
2011m07 2011q3   386,928  1,177,057       4,668          1,167            1,177        1,167
2011m08     387,838          
2011m09     392,354          
2011m10 2011q4   395,995  1,199,443       4,768          1,192            1,199        1,192
2011m11     397,868          
2011m12     398,012          
2012m01 2012q1   400,550         4,853          1,213          1,213
2012m02     404,791          
2012m03     408,032          
2012m04 2012q2           4,901            1,225
2012m07 2012q3           4,955            1,239
2012m10 2012q4           5,025            1,256


Related Releases
Advance Monthly Retail Trade Report
Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Sales
Retail Sales
U.S. Forecast - Baseline