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the selection of part of a total population of consumers or products whose behaviour or performance can be analysed, in order to make inferences about the behaviour or performance of the total population, without the difficulty and expense of undertaking a complete census of the whole population.

Samples may be chosen randomly, with every consumer or product in the population having an equal chance of being included. Random samples are most commonly used by firms in QUALITY CONTROL where they are used as a basis for selecting products, components or materials for quality testing.

Alternatively, samples may be chosen by dividing up the total population into a number of distinct sub-groups or strata, then selecting a proportionate number of consumers or products from each sub-group since this is quicker and cheaper than random sampling. In MARKETING RESEARCH and opinion polling, quota sampling is usually employed where interviewers select the particular consumers to be interviewed, choosing the numbers of these consumers in proportion to their occurrence in the total population.

Samples may be:

  1. cross-sectional, where sample observations are collected at a particular point in time, for example data on company sales and the incomes of consumers in the current year, embracing a wide range of different income groups, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income;
  2. longitudinal, where sample observations are collected over a number of time periods, for example data on changes in company sales over a number of years and changes in consumer incomes over the same time periods, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income. See STATISTICAL INFERENCES, QUESTIONNAIRE.
References in periodicals archive ?
You should never underestimate the pulling power of, or the passion people feel for, particular pubs - whether they be much-loved locals or city centre pubs which inspire the same devotion.
They declared the Cookhouse Pub & Carvery's garden to be "in another league" with a "fantastic" children's play area, outdoor eating and dining.
The landlord of The Grove at Springwood is among the finalists in the annual contest and his pub - which is entered in the category for best beer pub - is the only Huddersfield hostelry represented in this year's awards.
All of the pub staff have been relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs.
Brains put three pubs on the market and have announced that one, The Duke of Clarence, in Canton, has been sold to a private developer.
The Pubs Code will help ensure fair dealing for tied tenants while minimising as far as possible burdens on business.
Pub and bar owners aged between 25 and 34 now account for 15% of total pubs on average and turnover in the industry has risen by an average of 23%, showing that existing businesses are benefiting from strong levels of consumer spending, despite official industry figures showing a decline in the total number of small and medium sized pubs in the UK in the last three years.
Pub companies have a lot of power to buy beer cheaply from brewers because they've got thousands of pubs.
Previously 'tied pub tenants' were forced to buy supplies like beer at hugely inflated prices from the breweries which owned the building.
But the Federation of Small Businesses and other bodies such as real ale campaigners CAMRA claim that some pub RA claim that some pub R companies hike up prices, and the practice has contributed to the closure of many pubs.
A HUSBAND-AND-WIFE team who lovingly restored an ancient seafront pub have been presented with The Welsh Pub of the Year award.
One hundred pubs from across the country will vie for national titles across 17 categories, including Best Cask Beer Pub, Best Community Pub, Best Food Pub and even Best Pub Loos.