Businesses’ Assessment Of Current Sales And Profit Margins

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 BIE Survey of September 20 (pdf) (involving 206 firms responding) :

Respondents indicated that, on average, they expect unit costs to rise 1.9 percent over the next 12 months, roughly in line with the recent year-ahead inflation forecasts of private economists. Inflation uncertainty was virtually unchanged at 2.4 percent in September from 2.3 percent in August. Firms also report that, compared to this time last year, their unit costs are up 1.7 percent. Sales levels were little changed in September, with 52 percent of respondents now saying their current sales levels are at or above normal compared to 53 percent in August. Profit margins also changed only slightly, with 49 percent of respondents indicating their profit margins are at or above normal, compared to 45 percent in August.

Among questions and responses seen in the report include the following:

  • “How do your current PROFIT MARGINS compare with ‘normal’ times?”
  • This month’s “quarterly question” asked “By roughly what percent are your firm’s sales levels above/below “normal,” if at all?”
  • The “special question asked respondents to indicate whether they felt that their firm’s performance was a leading, lagging, or coincident indicator of overall economic recession or expansion.”


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


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.