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Background Notes

The Annual Services Inquiry (ASI) has been conducted on annual basis since 1991. The purpose of the survey is to provide estimates of the principal trading aggregates for all enterprises in the retail, wholesale, transportation and storage, accommodation and food, information and communication, real estate, professional, scientific, technical, administrative and other selected services sectors.


This Statutory Inquiry is conducted under the Statistics (Structural Business Inquiries) Order 2017 (S.I. No.572 of 2017), made under the Statistics Act 1993 and Regulation (EC) No. 295 of 2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning structural business statistics. 

Central Business Register

The CSO’s Central Business Register provides the sampling frame from which the Annual Services Inquiry sample is selected each year. The Business Register is updated continuously throughout the year.

Sample Design

The ASI is designed to provide estimates of the principal trading aggregates for all enterprises in the relevant sectors. The ‘enterprise’ is the unit used for survey purposes i.e. one return is sought in respect of each enterprise covering all constituent branches, local units or subsidiaries. The sample is selected based on number of persons engaged in the enterprise i.e. number of proprietors plus number of full-time and part-time staff. A census of enterprises with 20 or more persons engaged is selected. In addition a stratified random sample is selected for the enterprises with less than 20 persons engaged, with decreasing sampling proportions taken in the lower persons engaged ranges. All enterprises with 1 or more persons engaged are included in the survey frame. However, the units with less than 2 persons engaged are not surveyed; the data for those are imputed directly from administrative data sources.

Use of Administrative data

The original series was aggregated using grossing factors. This method has been revised in the new series.  Instead of grossing, the use of administrative (tax ) data is used instead.

For every non-respondent or non-surveyed enterprise a survey return is created using tax information. The primary financial value the survey uses is profit/loss data with estimates for labour costs added to arrive at a value for GVA. This is derived from the administrative data. Other financial variables normally received from the survey form are estimated using actual survey returns as the data is not available from the administrative data. This is done using ratio-estimators.  A basic example of the concept would be the ratio of turnover to gva. If the ratio for a particular Nace is 4:1 for turnover to GVA, we would simply multiply the derived administrative GVA by 4 to give us a turnover value.

Number of Persons Engaged includes all full time and part-time employees. It also includes proprietors, partners and family members who work for an enterprise. It excludes agency workers.

Service and Distribution in EU27 Ireland includes NACE groups G-N (excl K) and R92, R93, S95and S96. The other EU Countries include NACE groups G-N (excl K) and S95.