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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.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson
References in periodicals archive ?
Real ale drinkers are more likely to make friends in the pub than those who favour a different kind of tipple, a survey has found.
At the same time, the number of pubs with fewer than 10 employees has plummeted dramatically.
THE Dealers Arms, in Garston, has relaunched following a PS190,000 investment by pub owners Punch.
However, while the overall number of pubs and bars has fallen, the picture is very different for larger and smaller establishments.
These figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirm the trends regularly reported by organisations such as the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA).
That is a fall of 22.9 per cent - or nearly one in four pubs - from the 50,265 in 2008.
By 2018, partly due to the closure of many smaller pubs, this increased to eight employees.
There are now around 110 pubs and bars in Coventry, an estimated 55 fewer than in 2008, figures from the Office of National Statistics show.
But the turnover of the pub industry has remained strong, as larger chains focus on bigger bars at the expense of smaller pubs.
The Oaklands in Chester, The Rake in Little Stanney and The Hungry Horse at Cheshire Oaks is advertising the dream job for pub goers and calling for a local spokesperson to represent the pub company in return for a [pounds sterling]500 salary.