New paper: Exploring the representativeness of the M5 competition data

Authors: Evangelos Theodorou, Shengjie Wang, Yanfei Kang, Evangelos Spiliotis, Spyros Makridakis, Vassilios Assimakopoulos 

Abstract: The main objective of the M5 competition, which focused on forecasting the hierarchical unit sales of Walmart, was to evaluate the accuracy and uncertainty of forecasting methods in the field in order to identify best practices and highlight their practical implications. However, whether the findings of the M5 competition can be generalized and exploited by retail firms to better support their decisions and operation depends on the extent to which the M5 data is representative of the reality, i.e., sufficiently represent the unit sales data of retailers that operate in different regions, sell different types of products, and consider different marketing strategies. To answer this question, we analyze the characteristics of the M5 time series and compare them with those of two grocery retailers, namely Corporación Favorita and a major Greek supermarket chain, using feature spaces. Our results suggest that there are only small discrepancies between the examined data sets, supporting the representativeness of the M5 data.

Links: Working paper

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