Business Sales Levels And Expectations Concerning Unit Costs

The Atlanta Federal Reserve publishes a monthly report titled “Business Inflation Expectations” (BIE) that contains statistics from a survey of regional businesses’ views on various factors that impact profitability.  These factors include unit costs, unit cost expectations, sales levels, profit margins, and other factors.

As described on the site:

Approximately 300 panelists receive the survey each month. Panelists represent businesses of various sizes headquartered within the Sixth District, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and sections of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Panelists range from executives of large corporations to owner-operators of small businesses. The industry composition of the panel roughly reflects the makeup of the national economy. Nevertheless, survey responses are weighted by industry shares of national gross domestic product.

An excerpt from the December 2013 BIE Survey (pdf) dated December 20, 2013 (involving 203 firms responding) :

Respondents indicated that, on average, they expect unit costs to rise 1.9 percent over the next 12 months. Inflation uncertainty was unchanged at 2.3 percent in December. Firms also report that, compared to this time last year, their unit costs are up 1.8 percent. Respondents reported improved sales levels in December, with roughly 54 percent indicating their current sales levels are at or above normal compared to just 44 percent in November. Profit margins also improved somewhat, with 50 percent of respondents indicating their profit margins are at or above normal, compared to just 41 percent in November.

This month’s “quarterly question” concerned the percentage above / below unit sales levels were compared to normal levels.

Also, the “special question” and its responses are depicted below:

Fed 12-20-13 Atlanta Fed BIE Special Question

The report also includes a variety of charts and tables depicting respondents’ answers to the various questions.


StratX, LLC offers the above commentary for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily agree with all (or any) of the views expressed by these outside parties.

—– is published by StratX, LLC (  StratX, LLC is a management consulting firm and strategic advisory that focuses on the analysis of current and future business conditions, and given these conditions, offers corporations and businesses advice, strategies, and actionable methods on how to optimally increase revenues and profitability.