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    The Business Climate Survey (CLEM), conducted on a quarterly basis, is an operation of a qualitative nature allowing the performance of short-term economic analysis. It compiles the opinions of representatives of establishments with activity in Catalonia on the situation in the period in question, the evolution in comparison with the previous quarter and the expectations for the coming quarter of a set of variables which affect the establishment's economic development.

    This survey has been conducted jointly by the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat) and the Official Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping (Barcelona Chamber) by virtue of a collaboration agreement since 2008. The line of collaboration between the two organisms led to the incorporation of this operation as a new statistical exercise in the Annual Programme for Statistical Action (PAAE) in 2009. Its inclusion within the framework of official statistics meant a new design adapted to the existing technical and methodological requirements and the harmonization of its characteristics with the official nomenclatures and classifications.

    The information compiled in the Business Climate Survey also allows the calculation of the Harmonized Business Confidence Index, an operation conducted jointly by the National Statistical Institute (INE) and Idescat by means of a collaboration agreement. This indicator has been calculated since 2013 by means of the mutual exchange of information from the samples of the two operations (The Idescat Business Climate Survey and the Business Confidence Indicators survey —ICE— from the INE).

    Each quarter, as well as the basic questions to identify the situation and evolution of the business in a given period, the Survey questionnaire compiles information on useful areas of the entrepreneurial environment in the Section on the Current Entrepreneurial Situation.

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the survey compiled information on establishments from the sectors of industry, construction, trade, accommodation and company services. From 2012 onwards, the scope of the study was extended to the inclusion of wholesale trade and intermediaries, food and beverage service activitiesand other services not included in previous years.

    1. Objectives

    The main objective of the Business Climate Survey is to obtain a rapid understanding of the situation and the evolution of the activity of the establishments in Catalonia, based on the opinions provided by the managers of the establishments on the situation of their businesses at a certain time, and, in accordance with the above information, to anticipate potential changes in trend in the economic cycle.

    Every quarter, the managers of the establishments selected in the sample provide their opinions on the recent evolution and the expectations for the immediate future of variables such as the business performance, prices and exports. They also respond to current issues relating to the areas of interest surrounding the company included in the Section on the Current Entrepreneurial Situation.

    2. Population scope

    The reference population is made up of all the establishments which carry out their activities in Catalonia, regardless of where their head offices are located. Research is conducted on establishments whose main activity is included in the following sections of the CCAE-2009: B to N (except for division 70), R (only divisions 92 and 93) and S (only divisions 95 and 96). The sectors of activity are listed in section 7. Sectorization.

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the population scope focused on establishments with activities included in the following groupings, according to the CCAE-2009: sections C (except division 19) and F, divisions 38, 45, 47, 58 to 63, 69 to 74, 77, 78, 80 and 82 and groups 551, 812 and 951. The activity sectors are listed in section 7. Sectorization.

    3. Temporal scope

    The survey is quarterly. At the end of each quarter, information is requested in reference to the evolution of the business with respect to the immediately preceding quarter, and the companies forecasts for the following quarter.

    4. Geographical scope

    The survey covers the whole territory of Catalonia.

    5. Statistical unit

    The unit of analysis is the establishment, which also coincides with the unit of information.

    The survey is aimed at the managers of the establishments, who are the people who have a global vision of their businesses and can provide their opinions on the situation and evolution of the variables under study.

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the unit of information was a company with economic activity in the sectors included in the population scope of the survey which carried out its activity in Catalonia. The unit of analysis differs, depending on the location of the company's activity: for companies with activities inside and outside the Catalan territory, the unit of analysis corresponds to the part of the company with activity in Catalonia, while it coincides with the entire company if its activity is conducted exclusively in Catalonia. In the case of hotels, the units of analysis and information are the establishments located in Catalonia.

    6. Sample design

    The theoretical sample of the operation consists of a panel of 3,000 establishments located in Catalonia, distributed by sectors of activity and sizes of establishment.

    The global sample used to obtain the results is achieved by means of the merging of the effective sample of this operation with that obtained by the INE's Business Confidence Indicators Survey (ICE).

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the theoretical sample was made up of 4,000 establishments.

    7. Sectorisation

    The information is presented disaggregated by activity sectors. In the cases of industry, commerce and other services, the results are respectively provided for 7, 8 and 6 branches of activity.

    The following table shows the relationship between the groupings of activities used and the Catalan classification of economic activities (CCAE-2009).

    Correspondence between the groups of activities and the CCAE-2009
    CCAE-2009 code
    Food, drinks and tobacco industries 10–12
    Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries 13–15
    Wood and cork, Paper, publishing and graphic arts 16–18
    Chemical, rubber other non-metal mineral products industries 20–23
    Metallurgy and metal products 24, 25
    Manufacture of machinery, mechanical, electrical, computer, electronic and optical equipment 26–28
    Different industries Section B, D and E; 19, 29–33
    Construction Divisons 41–43
    Retail trade
    Retail of food, drink and tobacco 472
    Retail of domestic, cultural and recreational items 475, 476
    Trade in unspecialized establishments 471
    Other types of retail trade 473, 474, 477–479
    Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 45
    Wholesale trade and trading intermediaries 46
    Accommodation and food service activities Divisions 55 and 56
    Rest of services
    Informations and communications Section J
    Legal activities, compatible with technical services 69, 71
    R&D, advertising, market research and scientific and technical activities 72–75
    Administrative and support service activities Section N
    Other service activities Sections H, K, L, R (divisions 92 and 93) and S (division 96)

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the results for industry, retail trade and company services are respectively provided for 12, 8 and 6 branches of activity. The relationship between the groupings of activities used and the CCAE-2009 is shown in the following table:

    Correspondence between the groups of activities and the CCAE-2009
    CCAE-2009 code
    Food, drinks and tobacco industries 10–12
    Textiles, clothes, leather and footwear industries 13–15
    Wood and cork industries 16
    Paper, editing, graphic arts and recorded media industries 17, 18, 58
    Chemical industry 20, 21
    Manufacture of rubber and plastic products 22
    Other non-metal mineral products industries 23
    Metallurgy and manufacture of metal products 24, 25
    Manufacture of machinery and mechanical equipment 28, 33
    Manufacture of electrical equipment and computer, electronic and optical products 26, 27
    Manufacture of transport materials 29, 30
    Different manufacturing industries 31, 32, 38
    Construction 41–43
    Retail trade
    Retail of food, drink and tobacco 472
    Retail of clothing and footwear 4771, 4772
    Retail of audiovisual equipment and other domestic items 4743, 475
    Retail of books, newspapers and stationary 4761, 4762
    Retail of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and hygiene products 4773–4775
    Sale of motor vehicles and motorcycles and spare parts and accessories 451, 453, 454
    Retail of other items in specialised establishments 4741, 4742, 4763–4765, 4776–4778
    Retail in non-specialised establishments 471
    Accommodations 551
    Company services
    Telecommunications, computer services and IT services 61, 62, 631, 951
    Rental activities 77
    Technical services, R&D and market studies 71, 72, 732
    Legal, accounting and business consultancy activities 69, 70
    Advertising and audiovisual services 59, 60, 731
    Other business service activities 639, 74, 78, 80, 812, 82

    8. Concepts

    This section contains a description of the main variables collected to produce these statistics.

    Business situation
    Operating profits obtained as consequence of the company's ordinary activities.
    Sales price
    Final monetary unit assigned by the company to each item or service in order for them to be purchased by customers.
    People employed
    People that contribute, by providing labour, to the production of goods and services or that perform auxiliary roles for the company.
    Foreign turnover
    Turnover proceeding from sales made to other countries.
    Level of productive capacity
    Proportion, in percentage, between the production in the reference period and the maximum production that can be achieved using the material facilities (equipment and buildings) that the company possesses.
    Acquisition, extension or improvement of assets (installations and equipment, including computing) for the period of reference.
    Portfolio of orders (until 2010)
    Future income proceeding from contracts signed with customers within the period of reference.
    Trading volume (until 2010)
    Equivalent to the portfolio of orders for the construction sector.
    Stocks of finished products (until 2010)
    Assets derived from the production process and ready to be sold or dispatched.
    Turnover (until 2010)
    Income obtained from the sale of goods and services ordered by customers for each price level.
    Executed work (until 2010)
    Concept equivalent to turnover for the construction sector.
    Purchases (until 2010)
    Goods and services acquired by the company and that that may or may not be used in the production process.
    Purchasing price (until 2011)
    Final assigned monetary unit that the company has paid for each item or service it has acquired.

    9. Data collection

    The information is mainly obtained by means of an online questionnaire (CAWI system), although the respondents are offered the possibility of replying to the questionnaire by e-mail, fax or by means of a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI system).

    This combination of methods helps with data collection and ensures the information and results are obtained quickly, a very important aspect in opinion-based surveys of short-term situations.

    The information is collected from the second fortnight of the months of March, June, September and December each year, and the process takes approximately three weeks.

    The questionnaire is divided into three separate blocs: the first is for the identification of the establishment, the second, the main bloc of the survey, includes the basic questions which appear each quarter and the last module, known as the Section on the Current Entrepreneurial Situation, varies each quarter.

    The bloc for the identification of the establishment, in addition to the identification data (including the company name, address of the establishment, contact person and e-mail address), contains a description of the activity it carries out and includes a section so that the respondents can introduce any modifications to the data they deem appropriate.

    The bloc of permanent questions is the core of the survey and contains questions on the items described in section 8. Items. This section includes the perception of the business performance and the evolution of variables such as the number of people employed, the level of prices and exports. Some questions are specific to a particular sector, such as the degree of use of the production capacity, designed for industrial establishments. Other questions, such as investment and factors affecting the business performance, are included in the last quarter of the year in order to reflect their annual behaviour.

    Almost all of these questions are qualitative in nature offering 3 possible answers: positive (good, better, increasing); neutral (normal, same, staying stable) and negative (poor, worse, reducing).

    Finally, the opinion on the Section on the Current Entrepreneurial Situation is reserved each quarter for formulating three or four questions on information in areas of interest according to the current situation.

    Due to methodological changes, the questionnaire was modified in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2012. Until 2010, quarterly information was available on the portfolio of orders, the level of stock of finished products, the volume of executed work and the contract volume. Until 2012, quarterly information was provided on investment and factors affecting the business performance.

    10. Tabulation and treatment of the data

    As indicated in the previous section, the questions in the main bloc of the survey are formulated with three possible replies (positive, neutral and negative). The percentages corresponding to each of the options are obtained upon the basis of the respondents' replies:

    • R+: percentage positive responses
    • R: percentage neutral responses
    • R: percentage negative responses

    No weighting or elevation of the replies is performed in the calculation of the percentages (in other words, the opinion of each establishment represents a reply, regardless of its size). This methodology is based on the Japanese Tankan index and facilitates the integration of the samples of the CLEM and ICE.

    On the basis of these percentages, the value for each variable is calculated. The value (S) is defined as the difference between the percentages of positive and negative responses:

    S = R+ − R

    The value can vary between −100 (all the respondents have a negative perception) and +100 (all the respondents have a positive perception).

    The balance of a question is positive if the optimists (in other words, the respondents who have a favourable opinion) outnumber the pessimists. Otherwise, the balance will be negative.

    Until 2012, the balances were calculated by weighting the replies of the respondents with two factors. A first factor calculated upon the basis of the size of the company in Catalonia (number of employees) and a second factor calculated according to the percentage of the gross added value (GAV) which each branch contributes to the GAV of its sector as a whole. The second weighting is not necessary in the accommodation and construction sectors, as no broken down information is provided for branches of sectoral activity. The calculation of the GAV is performed upon the basis of the Industrial Survey of Companies and the Annual Survey of Services, according to the corresponding sector.

    11. Publication of the results

    The Business climate survey publishes its results on the Internet. The results of the main variables are shown for each of the five researched. In the cases of the industry, trade and services sectors the companies are broken down by size of the company in Catalonia (in terms of employment) and activity branches.

    In the accommodation and food and beverage service activities sector the results are shown broken down by tourist areas and sizes of establishment, while in the construction sector results are provided by sizes of establishment. Tourist areas used in the dissemination of the results correspond to the tourist brands or to such groupings in force on the reference date. Thus, from 2012 the areas and corresponding tourist brands are as follows:

    • Pirineus i Val d'Aran Area (Pirineus i Val d'Aran)
    • Costa Brava Area (Costa Brava)
    • Costa de Barcelona Area (Costa de Barcelona)
    • Barcelona Area (Barcelona)
    • Costa Daurada Area (Costa Daurada)
    • Interior Area (Terres de Lleida, Paisatges Barcelona, Terres de l'Ebre)

    Until the fourth quarter of 2011, the publication of the results for the Accommodation sector was also broken down by categories of establishment, and the tourist areas used are:

    • Pirineus i Val d'Aran Area (Pirineus-Prepirineus i Val d'Aran)
    • Costa Brava Area (Costa Brava)
    • Costa del Maresme Area (Costa del Maresme)
    • Barcelona Area (Barcelona)
    • Costa del Garraf Area (Costa del Garraf)
    • Costa Daurada Area (Costa Daurada)
    • Interior Area (Terres de Lleida, Catalunya Central, Terres de l'Ebre)

    From the first quarter of 2012 onwards, information was provided on the whole of Catalonia.

    Once the information is compiled and the results are published, personalised reports are sent to the respondents who request them when filling in the questionnaire. This report contains a comparison of the replies for their establishment with the results obtained in their sector of activity and size.