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Number of Units

This relates to the number of individual business sites e.g. a plant, factory, shop etc.

Total Employment

This is the point in time estimate of full and part time employees on the payroll plus the number of working proprietors employed on a set day in September.

Please note that Total Employment is a head count and not a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) measure. This distinction is particularly important for sectors with high levels of part time employment (e.g. Retail and Accommodation & Food Service activities) especially when comparing Per Head figures.

Total employees

This is the point in time estimate of full and part time employees on the payroll on a set day in September.
This is also a head count and not a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) measure (see employment explanation above).

Total turnover

Turnover is defined as total sales and work done. This is calculated by adding together the values of:

  • sales of goods produced
  • goods purchased and resold without further processing
  • work done and industrial services rendered
  • non-industrial services rendered
Purchases of goods & services

This is the value of all goods and services purchased during the year.

Gross Value Added at Basic Prices

Approximate Gross Value Added (aGVA) represents the amount that individual businesses, industries or sectors contribute to the economy.

aGVA is a measure of the income generated by businesses within their industries and sectors, less the cost of goods and services used to create the income. The main component of income is turnover, while purchases is the main component of the consumed goods and services (referred to as intermediate consumption). Stock levels which may rise or fall can also have an impact on aGVA, as can the values of subsidies received or duty paid. Businesses' labour costs (for example, wages and salaries) are paid from the value of GVA, leaving an operating surplus which is a good approximation for profit. The cost of capital investment, financial charges and dividends to shareholders are met from the operating surplus.

The ABS publishes aGVA at 'basic prices'. Gross Value Added (GVA) at basic prices is the output at basic prices minus intermediate consumption at purchaser prices. The basic price is the amount receivable by the producer from the purchaser for a unit of a product, minus any tax payable plus any subsidy receivable on that product.

This ABS measure of aGVA is called 'approximate' because it does not fully allow for certain National Accounts concepts such as taxes, subsidies or income earned in kind.

aGVA = output at basic prices – intermediate consumption =

total turnover + movement in total stocks + work of a capital nature carried out by own staff  + value of insurance claims received + other subsidies received + amounts paid in business rates + amounts paid in vehicle excise duty + acquisitions from computer software programs and databases, developed by own staff for business use - total purchases - amounts received through the Work Programme - total net taxes (note: for service industries, this is total taxes, not total net taxes)

Detailed information of the differences between ABS approximate GVA at 'basic prices' and National Accounts/Regional Accounts GVA is available in the ABS Technical Report published by ONS at:  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/method-quality/specific/business-and-energy/annual-business-survey/quality-and-methods/abs-technical-report---june-2014.pdf

ONS has also published an article on A Comparison between Annual Business Survey and National Accounts Measures of Value Added at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/method-quality/specific/business-and-energy/annual-business-survey/quality-and-methods/a-comparison-between-abs-and-national-accounts-measures-of-value-added.pdf

Total Taxes

These are the amounts payable to the government for taxes, levies and duties. Included are rates relating to industrial and commercial property which are payable to the government via local authorities.

Increase in Total stocks

This represents the increase during the year for materials, stores and fuel and goods on hand for sale. Amounts for materials which have been partially processed but which are not usually sold without further processing are also included.

Gross Wages & Salaries

This represents the amount paid to employees (in cash or kind). This includes gross wages and salaries and redundancy and severance payments to employees. Payment to working proprietors, travelling expenses etc. are excluded.

Total Labour Costs

This represents the total cost to employers of employing staff. This includes gross wages & salaries (as defined above) and also all overtime payments, bonuses, commissions, payments in kind, benefits in kind, holiday pay, employer's national insurance contributions, payments into pension funds by employers and redundancy payments less any amounts reimbursed for this purpose from government sources. No deduction is made for income tax or employee's national insurance contributions etc. Payment to working proprietors, travelling expenses, lodgings allowances, etc are excluded.

Total Output at Basic Prices

Output is essentially the measure of productive activity and covers - market output, output produced for own final use and other non-market output.


ONS have published an ABS Glossary of terms to help interpret technical descriptions and abbreviations associated with the Annual Business Survey.​