Retail trade volume index overview

Data from February 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, main tables and database. - Planned update of the article: March 2018.
Please also see the monthly Eurostat News Release 7 November 2017.

The index of the volume of retail trade is a business indicator which measures the monthly changes of the deflated turnover of retail trade both at the level of the European Union (EU) and euro area, and of individual EU Member States (as well as some candidate and EFTA countries). This article provides an overview of the development of the index over recent years and describes how it is calculated.

Figure 1: Retail trade volume and turnover indicators, EU-28, monthly data, seasonally and working day adjusted (2010=100), Source: Eurostat (sts_trtu_m)
Figure 2: Turnover for total trade, wholesale trade, retail trade and motor vehicles, EU-28, monthly data, seasonally adjusted (2010=100),
Source: Eurostat (sts_trtu_m)
Figure 3: Retail trade volume according to product groups, EU-28, monthly data, seasonally adjusted (2010=100),
Source: Eurostat (sts_trtu_m)
Table 1: Retail trade volume annual rates of change, calendar adjusted
Source: Eurostat (sts_trtu_a)

Main statistical findings

After several years of a steady increase the volume of retail trade in the EU-28 peaked in early 2008 (Figure 1). After that a decline set in which lasted until mid-2013. Since the first half of 2013 the retail volume has again increased relatively steadily, only at the very end of 2016 two consecutive drops in the monthly indicator could be observed. Figure 1 not only shows the (real) volume of EU retail trade turnover but also the (nominal) turnover indicator which combines both volume and price changes. As can be seen the nominal values reacted more strongly during the crisis, suggesting a decrease in the general level of retail prices. However, since mid-2009 nominal turnover has increased much more than the retail trade volume and has now reached a level of almost 8 percentage points above the pre-crisis high.

Turnover data (but not trade volume data) are available for the whole NACE Rev. 2 section G, which includes not only retail trade (NACE Rev. 2, division 47) but also wholesale trade (NACE Rev. 2, division 46) and the sale (wholesale and retail) and repair of motor vehicles (NACE Rev. 2, division 45). Figure 2 shows the development of these turnover indicators for the EU-28. It becomes apparent that wholesale trade and the trade in motor vehicles reacted much more strongly during the crisis than the turnover of retail trade. However, since the end of 2012 the turnover in the trade and repair of motor vehicles has also increased more dynamically than the turnover in other trade areas. After its low in the first half of 2009 turnover in wholesale trade also recovered relatively dynamically. Between summer 2013 and early 2016 the wholesale trade turnover declined again. Since then it has recovered without however reaching the pre-crisis peak level.

Figure 3 provides a breakdown of the retail trade volume for the three main product groups: non-food articles (excluding fuel); food, beverages and tobacco; and automotive fuel. The retail volume of food products (plus drinks and tobacco) reacted less strongly during the economic and financial crisis than the trade volume of non-food products. However both product groups developed in largely comparable ways. The retail volume of fuel (sold in specialised stores, i.e. filling stations) had followed a less clearer trend since the year 2000 with temporary peaks in the summer of 2003, late 2006, early and late 2008. Between 2009 and 2012, a relatively steady decline could be observed, since then the volume of sales of fuel has increased again. The decline in the total retail trade volume mentioned above (see also Figure 1) can be observed in all three retail categories.

The retail trade volume in the EU Member States generally increased during the last decade, but the magnitude of the changes differ substantially (table 1). Between 2005 and 2007, the year before the crisis, retail trade volume increased in all EU Member States (with the exception of Malta). Especially strong were the increases in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic countries. High increases of around 20 % could also be observed in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Cyprus, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia. In most of these countries the dynamic development stopped between 2006 and 2008. In the Baltic countries the high pre-crisis growth rates were followed by comparatively high negative rates of change in 2008/2009. Substantial decreases of more than 10% in three years were also observed in Greece and Spain. Few EU-countries came through the crisis without any negative development of retail trade volume between 2008 and 2010 (e.g. France, Luxembourg, Poland and Sweden). During the last two years the retail trade development was rather dynamic in almost all EU countries, especially in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Data sources, aggregation and availability

The retail trade volume index represents the value of retail trade turnover in constant prices (deflated turnover) (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1503/2006). (Note that in principle, the STS-Regulations require the production and transmission of a deflator of sales, i.e. a price indicator. If this indicator is not available the retail trade volume indicator can be used as an alternative. This is the option that all Member States actually have chosen. )

The definition of retail trade turnover (and turnover in general) is also laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1503/2006. It comprises the total invoiced by the statistical unit (observation unit) during the reference period. It includes all charges such as packaging and transport but excludes VAT and similar deductible taxes. (For more details see the glossary article on turnover in STS.)

The volume of retail trade is conceptually different from the volume of retail trade services. The latter indicator (not available at European level ) does not relate to the sales as such but to the sales service provided by the retail businesses. Because of the methodological difficulties in construction a genuine sales service indicator the volume of retail trade is usually used as an approximation.

The latest results for the development of retail trade are published in monthly news releases by Eurostat. Trade volume data are available on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, in calendar adjusted and seasonally adjusted form (seasonal adjustment includes also calendar adjustment). All data are either available as indices or as growth rates. Eurostat publishes aggregated data for the EU-28, for the euro areas, the EU Member States and some other European countries (see above).

Context

In 2014 retail trade generated almost 5% of the total value added of the European economies. The index of deflated retail turnover (retail trade volume) is the key European indicator for the short-term development of retail trade. The indicator is also one of the 'Principal European economic indicators (PEEI)' which are used to monitor and steer economic and monetary policies in the EU and in the euro area.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Trade and services (t_sts_ts)
Wholesale and retail trade (NACE G) (t_sts_wrt)
Turnover and volume of sales (t_sts_wrt_ts)

Database

Trade and services (sts_ts)
Wholesale and retail trade (NACE G) (sts_wrt)
Turnover and volume of sales index (sts_wrt_ts)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata