Aim of this survey

The Annual Purchases Survey aims to collect information about business’ expenditure on energy, services, goods, and materials that are used up or transformed by the business activity. The survey includes raw materials, power and fuel, rental on buildings, and business services such as advertising, recruitment consultancy and cleaning. It specifically excludes fixed assets or capital investment, staff costs, and goods and services bought for resale without further processing.

The information supplied helps identify the purchasing patterns of businesses to inform UK Government policy. The information also contributes to the UK National Accounts, UK gross domestic product (GDP) estimates, and ensures the UK meets international obligations, particularly to the EU.

What you need to know

To complete the survey, you will need the following information:

  • trading period
  • total purchases
  • purchases of energy, water and waste
  • purchases of services
  • purchases of goods, materials and related services

All information you provide is strictly confidential.

Survey information

Selection criteria: UK trading businesses registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) and/or Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

The Annual Purchases Survey selects legal status 1 (company), 2 (sole proprietor) and 3 (partnership).
It does not select the public sector or not for profit organisations.

All industries excluding:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (SIC 01.1 to 01.5)
  • Public administration and defence, and Compulsory social security (section O)
  • Activities of households as employers (section T)
  • Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies (section U)

Population: approximately 2.5 million

Sample: approximately 33,000

Frequency: annually

Dispatch dates:

Rolling dispatch between 24 and 28 February

Return-by date:

05 May

Dispatch and return-by dates are a guide. They are subject to change because of national holidays and weekends.

Why you were selected

Your business has been selected from a directory of businesses in the UK that are registered for VAT and/or PAYE or with Companies House. Your response ensures we represent your industry.

The Annual Purchases Survey is conducted under the provisions of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. Once selected, your business is legally obliged to comply. You cannot appeal your selection.

Why you have received this survey

We survey businesses of all sizes to ensure our statistics are representative of the UK economy. We select large businesses (those with 100 plus employees) for any relevant Office for National Statistics (ONS) business surveys because their information is so significant. We select some small and medium businesses, usually for a set period of time, then replace them with other businesses from their industry. They are very important to us as their trading patterns are often very different to large businesses.

How to complete this survey

Please complete and return the paper questionnaire following the guidelines on the front page.

Reminders are issued automatically, so you may receive one if you submit data just before or after the return date.

At the moment this survey is not available to complete online, but we have developed a secure survey data collection platform and are gradually moving our business surveys online. You will receive a letter notifying you when you can complete the Annual Purchases Survey on our new platform. We appreciate your patience.

If you need help

If your question is not answered above, you may be able to find the answer on the About ONS business surveys page.

You can call us on 0300 1234 917. Please enter the three-digit survey ID 010.

From outside the UK: +441633 810495.

Er mwyn gwneud cais am ffurflen Gymraeg (to speak to someone in Welsh): 0300 1234 921.