Business Outlook Surveys are qualitative surveys to track the current economic situation and to forecast short-term trends. Business Outlook Surveys are conducted among company chiefs or among households.
Business Outlook Surveys serve to provide an overview of a given sector of activity, and an insight into domains that are not covered or are covered later by classical statistics.
For companies, the investigated business sectors are the industry, the services, the retail trade and the car repairs, the wholesale trade and the property development.
Some of these Business Outlook Surveys (households, industry, investment in the industry, services, retail trade and car repairs, building industry and public works) are in the European system of harmonized Business Outlook Survey to which contribute the Member states of the European Union. Questionnaires, classifications and methods of treatment are harmonized.
The information collected in Business Outlook Surveys is qualified as qualitative, because respondents are asked to assign qualities and not quantities to the variables deemed to be of interest. For example, in this kind of survey, respondents might be asked whether their order book is "better than normal", "normal" or "worse than normal", or if their cash flow situation is "better ", " equivalent", or "worse" with regard to the previous survey (trimodale answer). While in conventional quantitative surveys of a sector, respondents will be asked to supply the actual amount of existing orders.
As the Business Outlook Surveys show the situation and the perspectives of investigated by recording their qualitative opinion month to month, Business Outlook Surveys bring an irreplaceable information for the analysis and the short-term forecast. Other advantage, they are very quickly obtained, earlier than the quantitative statistics.