Table 1

Government and commercial retail food store data sources

Potential data source

Data available for the 1980s

Dates of operation

How often information is updated

Store name and address

Indicator of scale of operationsb

Some information for classifying food store as supermarket, etc.

Include small grocery stores


    GOVERNMENT SOURCES

Local business licensing agencies

Yesc

Yes

When licenses are renewed

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

State Board of Equalizationd (California)

Yes

Can be derived from multiple renewal records

When permits are renewed

Yes

No

Yes

Only those that carry taxable itemse


    COMMERCIAL SOURCES

Dun & Bradstreetf

Yes

Yes

Semi-annually

Yes

Yesg

Yes

Not usually

Trade Dimensionsh

Yes

Yes

Annually or semi-annually

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stores with annual sales volume of <$0.5 m are not usually included

Yellow Pages

Yes

No

Updated only when advertisement contract is renewed

Address sometimes not available

No

Yes

Usually


aInformation presented here was obtained in 2002–2003 for data relevant to 1979–1990.

bIndicators of scale of operations included annual sales volume, number of employees, number of cash registers, and store area (square footage).

cOnly one city agency (Modesto) was able to retrieve data for 1979–1990.

dThe California State Board of Equalization (SBOE) is responsible for collecting and allocating sales and use taxes from all businesses that sell taxable goods http://www.boe.ca.gov/index.htm webcite, and has records of all retail food stores except those that sell only non-taxable items such as fresh meat, produce and dairy. The data were obtained from Merlin Information Services (Kalispell, MT), a private vendor of national and California-specific public record information.

eAll stores that sell taxable items are required by law to apply for a permit but compliance is not 100%.

fDun & Bradstreet (Short Hills, NJ) is an established organization that maintains one of the most comprehensive business information databases in North America.

gData for chain stores are available only at the corporate level, but not at the store level.

hTrade Dimensions (Wilton, CT) gathers data on the retail food industry and provides marketing information to organizations such as the Food Marketing Institute and Progressive Grocer.

Wang et al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2006 3:15   doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-15

Open Data