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Last edited 10 Feb 2021
Forecasting is the art of predicting future events by examining a variety of factors. A forecast period is a defined period of time in the future that is taken for the preparation of an estimate of what is thought likely to happen during that period. The forecast may take the form of a statement that is written or verbal. It may also include graphical or numerical information.
A business forecast may be undertaken for example, on a three-month, six month or yearly basis. If done on a three-month basis, the forecast is usually referred to as a quarterly forecast; if six-month, it is referred to as a six-month forecast.
Forecasts are usually created from studying historical data and predicted trading conditions, opinions, trends, political, social and international factors, and how these might interact during the period concerned. The forecasts may be used as the basis for preparing targets and budgets for the period.
Most business forecasting is based on the use of extrapolative forecasting (extrapolative research techniques) which attempts to predict the future by extrapolating historical trends. This process assumes that patterns that have been manifest in the past are regular, can be measured and will continue.
Such techniques can be used to forecast annual earnings, annual spending, house sales etc.
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