Archive:Retail trade statistics - NACE Rev. 2
- Data from April 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This Statistics Explained article is outdated and has been archived - for recent articles on structural business statistics see here.' This article presents an overview of statistics for the retail trade sector in the European Union (EU), as covered by NACE Rev. 2 Division 47. Retailing is typically the final stage of the distribution chain from producers to consumers. Since the development of the internet, there has been an increasing use of web-based commerce. As such, there has been a gradual shift from traditional methods of purchasing from stores or markets towards purchasing remotely.
Main statistical findings
At the NACE division level, the retail trade sector (Division 47) was the largest within the EU-27’s non-financial business economy (Sections B to J and L to N and Division 95) in terms of numbers of enterprises and persons employed and the second largest in terms of turnover and value added, behind wholesale trade (Division 46). Turnover in the EU-27’s retail trade sector was valued at EUR 2 592 billion in 2010, equivalent to 10.9 % of the total for the non-financial business economy; in 2009, the EU-27 retail trade sector generated EUR 432.0 billion of value added, 7.9 % of the non-financial business economy total. There were 3.6 million retail trade enterprises in the EU-27 in 2010 and they employed 18.6 million persons, equivalent to 16.8 % of all enterprises in the non-financial business economy and 14.0 % of the non-financial business economy workforce. From these shares the main characteristics of the retail trade sector can be derived: namely, that there were a very large number of enterprises, generally having a small average size, producing a relatively high level of turnover but less value added.
The apparent labour productivity of the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010 was EUR 24.4 thousand per person employed, well below the non-financial business economy average of EUR 44.8 thousand per person employed and the distributive trades average of EUR 35.0 thousand per person employed. This was the lowest apparent labour productivity among the three distributive trades NACE divisions and the sixth lowest among all of the NACE divisions within the non-financial business economy. This low apparent labour productivity was accompanied by low average personnel costs, EUR 19.4 thousand per employee, again far below the non-financial business economy and distributive trades averages (EUR 30.9 thousand and EUR 25.9 thousand per employee respectively) and also the sixth lowest level for this ratio among any of the non-financial business economy NACE divisions.
Apparent labour productivity and average personnel costs are both calculated relative to the level of employment based on a head count of workers; there is a relatively high propensity to employ persons on a part-time basis within retail trade and therefore a simple head count of employment over-states the level of labour input when compared with other sectors where part-time employment is less prevalent. The wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio combines the two previous indicators and thereby reduces the impact of the incidence of part-time work. This indicator shows the extent to which value added covers personnel costs, while adjusting for the ratio of paid employees to the total number of persons employed. Although the wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio of 125.7 % for the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010 remained below the non-financial business economy average (144.8 %) and the distributive trades average (135.0 %), it was much closer, in relative terms, than was the case for apparent labour productivity and average personnel costs.
The gross operating rate (the relation between the gross operating surplus and turnover) was 6.2 % for the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010. Due to the very high turnover inherent in retail trade activities this rate was relatively low compared with the non-financial business economy average (10.1 %), but it was above the average for distributive trades (5.0 %) and was the highest rate among the three NACE divisions that make up distributive trades.
Within the EU-27 as a whole, retail sale in non-specialised stores (Group 47.1) contributed more than one third (34.8 %) of retail trade value added in 2009, while retail trade in specialised stores (Groups 47.2 to 47.7) accounted for 60.2 % and retail sale not in stores (Groups 47.8 and 47.9) the remainder (5.1 %). In employment terms, the shares were broadly similar, with a slightly lower share for retail sale in specialised stores and higher shares for the other two aggregates.
Within retail trade in specialised stores, the largest activity in the EU-27 was the retail sale of other goods in specialised stores (Group 47.7) with 31.1 % of all retail trade value added in 2009 — as such, this activity accounted for more than half of the value added generated in specialised store retailing; it includes, for example, the retailing of clothing, footwear, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical products, garden products and second-hand goods. Among the remaining in-store specialised retail activities, the largest — again in terms of value added — concerned the retailing of other household equipment (Group 47.5), food, beverages and tobacco (Group 47.2), and cultural and recreation goods (Group 47.6). The two remaining activities for in-store specialised retailing, which were both relatively small, concerned the retail of information and communication (ICT) equipment (Group 47.4) and automotive fuel (Group 47.3).
Retail trade outside of stores was split between retail sale via stalls and markets (Group 47.8), which contributed about 1.0 % of the EU-27’s value added in the retail trade sector in 2010, and the larger activity of retail trade not in stores, stalls or markets (Group 47.9) — which includes, for example, mail-order retailing — whose contribution to sectoral value added is estimated at around 4 %.
The low apparent labour productivity figure for the whole of the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010 was observed across all of the retail trade subsectors in 2010, as this ratio was below the average for distributive trades in each case. The lowest apparent labour productivity among the nine subsectors was recorded for retail sale via stalls and markets where apparent labour productivity was just EUR 10.0 thousand per person employed, the lowest figure recorded across all of the NACE groups within the non-financial business economy; this particularly low ratio may again be influenced by part-time employment, for example, when trading only takes place a few days a week (market days). Among the other subsectors, apparent labour productivity ranged from EUR 19.6 thousand per person employed for the retail sale of food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores to EUR 30.9 thousand per person employed for retail trade not in stores, stalls or markets. A ranking of the subsectors according to average personnel costs for the EU-27 showed the same subsectors at each extreme, ranging from EUR 14.7 thousand per employee for retail sale via stalls and markets to EUR 25.8 thousand per employee for retail trade not in stores, stalls or markets. Again, all of the retail trade subsectors reported average personnel costs in the EU-27 that were below the average for the whole of distributive trades.
As noted above, the wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio is less influenced by the incidence of part-time employment. Nevertheless, the EU-27 retail sale via stalls and markets subsector still recorded the lowest value for this ratio (70.0 %); indeed, this was the lowest figure recorded across any of the NACE groups within the non-financial business economy in 2010. The remaining eight retail trade subsectors recorded EU-27 wage-adjusted labour productivity ratios above 100 %, ranging from 120 % for the retail sale of other household equipment in specialised stores and the retail sale of cultural and recreation goods in specialised stores to 190.0 % for the retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores. The latter was the only retail trade subsector where the wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio exceeded the average for distributive trades (135.0 %) and the non-financial business economy (144.8 %).
Whereas the retail sale via stalls and markets subsector recorded the lowest productivity ratios within the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010, it also recorded the highest gross operating rate (15.9 %) and was thereby the only retail trade subsector with a rate above the non-financial business economy average (10.1 %). Most of the remaining retail trade subsectors recorded gross operating rates above the average for the whole of distributive trades (5.0 %), the exceptions being retail sales in non-specialised stores (4.3 %) and the retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores (4.4 %).
Retail trade is, by definition, a household-oriented service activity and retail trade enterprises often serve a local market. As such, there is relatively little specialisation in the activity as a whole and it is unsurprising that the five EU Member States with the largest populations also generated the most value added: Germany (EUR 86.5 billion), the United Kingdom (EUR 76.8 billion), France (EUR 72.6 billion), Italy (EUR 50.1 billion) and Spain (EUR 43.1 billion). In relative terms, the most specialised Member State was Cyprus, where 10.3 % of non-financial business economy value added in 2010 resulted from retail trade activities. Other Member States that were relatively specialised in retail trade included Slovakia, Spain and Portugal, as their retail trade sectors contributed 10.0 %, 9.0 % and 8.9 % respectively to non-financial business economy value added. The least specialised Member States, in value added terms, were the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Hungary, where the retail trade share of non-financial business economy value added was less than 6.0 %, as it was in Norway.
Cyprus’ specialisation in the retail trade sector was relatively widespread as it was the most specialised EU Member State in three retail trade subsectors — see Table 3 — and was second or third most specialised in two others. By contrast, Slovakia was the most specialised Member State for two subsectors, while it was not particularly specialised in any of the others; a similar situation was seen for Bulgaria and Spain except that they were most specialised for only one subsector. Lithuania and Italy were also the most specialised Member State for one subsector and the second most specialised in the one in which the other was most specialised; beyond these two subsectors, neither of these two countries were particularly specialised in other retail trade subsectors.
Italy recorded a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio below 100 % for the retail trade sector in 2010, while Bulgaria (102.4 %) and Hungary (103.5 %) were just above this threshold. All EU Member States, except for Slovakia and Slovenia, recorded wage-adjusted labour productivity ratios that were below their average ratios for the whole of the non-financial business economy. In a similar manner, the gross operating rate for retail trade was systematically lower than the average rate for the non-financial business economy in each of the Member States, ranging from 1.9 % in Hungary to 7.9 % in the United Kingdom, with a rate well above this range recorded for Slovakia (11.9 %).
Focus on retail trade turnover specialisations
Due to the specific nature of retail trade, namely selling goods without transformation to final consumers, an analysis of turnover is of particular interest. Due to incomplete data this analysis is based on an aggregate of data for 23 EU Member States, those excluded are Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Finland. Specialised in-store retailing (Groups 47.2 to 47.7) generated just over half (53.8 %) of the turnover in the retail trade sector in the EU in 2010, while non-specialised in-store retailing (Group 47.1) generated 41.4 % of the total; retailing not in-stores (Groups 47.8 and 47.9) accounted for the remaining 4.8 %.
While retail trade as a whole is not an activity with strong specialisations between EU Member States, an analysis of turnover for these three regroupings does indicate a certain specialisation in different retailing formats between Member States. The turnover share in 2010 of specialised in-store retailing was highest in Italy and Portugal (both 61.0 %), the Netherlands (63.0 %), Austria (64.2 %) and Bulgaria (65.8 %) and lowest in Slovakia (43.7 %); it was also less than 50.0 % in the United Kingdom and France. The turnover share of non-specialised retailing was highest in the United Kingdom (50.2 %), which was the only Member State where this share exceeded 50.0 %, although it reached 56.0 % in Croatia. Other Member States with a large proportion of retail turnover in non-specialised stores were Slovakia (49.1 %), Denmark (46.8 %), Ireland (46.1 %) and Estonia (45.7 %). Retail trading not in stores was highest in Latvia, Germany and Slovakia where it reached a 7.2 % share, but it was just 1.4 % in Portugal and Ireland.
At a more detailed level, it is possible to analyse in-store retailing of food, beverages and tobacco, comparing on one hand specialised retailers of these products and on the other hand non-specialised retailers with food, beverages and tobacco predominating (Class 47.11). For 21 of the EU Member States (excluding the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Finland), a 12.8 % share of the combined retail sales of these two activities was undertaken in specialised food, beverages and tobacco retail stores with the remainder in unspecialised stores with food, beverages and tobacco predominating. Among those Member States for which data are available, the proportion of food, beverages and tobacco sales in specialised stores was as low as 2.2 % in Lithuania and was also less than 5.0 % in Latvia and Slovenia. By contrast, it exceeded 15.0 % in eight of the Member States with Poland (19.1 %) and Spain (26.5 %) reporting the highest shares.
Size class analysis
There were approximately 4.0 thousand large enterprises (employing 250 or more persons) within the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010. Together they employed 6.9 million persons — equivalent to 37.2 % of the total number of persons employed. In terms of their contribution to sectoral value added, the share of large enterprises was considerably greater, at 45.0 %, just above the average contribution of large enterprises to the non-financial business economy (42.3 %). Micro enterprises (employing fewer than 10 persons) also played an important role in the retail trade sector, with 29.5 % of value added and a 38.3 % share of employment, slightly greater than the employment share of large enterprises. Apparent labour productivity ratios varied greatly according to enterprise size within the EU-27’s retail trade sector in 2010, from a low of EUR 18.8 thousand per person employed for micro enterprises to a high of EUR 29.5 thousand per person employed for large enterprises.
Large enterprises provided more than two thirds (67.0 %) of the retail trade sector’s value added in the United Kingdom in 2010, while these enterprises also generated more than half of sectoral value added in Austria, Lithuania and Slovenia. The lowest contributions of large enterprises to the value added generated in the retail trade sector were recorded for Bulgaria (9.8 %) and Cyprus (19.9 %): in all of the remaining EU Member States for which data are available the share of large enterprises was at least one quarter of the total. More than two fifths of retail trade value added in 2010 stemmed from micro enterprises in Bulgaria, Spain, Cyprus and Italy and more than one third of the total came from micro enterprises in Portugal, Slovakia and France. Small enterprises (employing 10 to 49 persons) contributed more than one quarter of the value added within the retail trade sector in Slovakia, Luxembourg and Bulgaria, while medium-sized enterprises (employing 50 to 249 persons) achieved their highest share (23.6 %) of total value added in Latvia.
Data sources and availability
The analysis presented in this article is based on the main dataset for structural business statistics (SBS) and size class data, all of which are published annually.
The main series provides information for each EU Member State as well as a number of non-member countries at a detailed level according to the activity classification NACE. Data are available for a wide range of variables.
In structural business statistics, size classes are generally defined by the number of persons employed. A limited set of the standard structural business statistics variables (for example, the number of enterprises, turnover, persons employed and value added) are analysed by size class, mostly down to the three-digit (group) level of NACE. The main size classes used in this article for presenting the results are:
- small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): with 1 to 249 persons employed, further divided into;
- micro enterprises: with less than 10 persons employed;
- small enterprises: with 10 to 49 persons employed;
- medium-sized enterprises: with 50 to 249 persons employed;
- large enterprises: with 250 or more persons employed.
This article presents an overview of statistics for the retail trade sector in the EU, as covered by NACE Rev. 2 Division 47. This division includes the resale (sale without transformation) of new and used goods mainly to the general public for personal or household consumption or use. The sale is done in shops, department stores, from stalls, mail-order houses, or by door-to-door sales persons, hawkers, consumer cooperatives and so on.
Retail trade is classified first by type of outlet — distinguishing in-store retail trade from retail trade not in stores. Retail trade in stores is divided between non-specialised retail sale (for example, supermarkets or department stores) and specialised retail sale. These are then further subdivided with a distinction for non-specialised in-store retailing between stores with food, beverages or tobacco dominating and others, and a more detailed subdivision of specialised retail trade in stores based on the range of products sold. Retail sale not in stores is subdivided according to different forms of trade rather than the types of products sold. This division also includes retail sales by commission agents and activities of retail auctioning houses.
Handling that is customary in trade does not affect the basic character of the merchandise and may include, for example, sorting, separating, mixing and packaging.
This NACE division is composed of nine groups:
- retail sale in non-specialised stores (Group 47.1);
- retail sale of food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores (Group 47.2);
- retail sale of automotive fuel in specialised stores (Group 47.3);
- retail sale of ICT equipment in specialised stores (Group 47.4);
- retail sale of other household equipment in specialised stores (Group 47.5);
- retail sale of cultural and recreation goods in specialised stores (Group 47.6);
- retail sale of other goods in specialised stores (Group 47.7);
- retail sale via stalls and markets (Group 47.8);
- retail trade not in stores, stalls or markets (Group 47.9).
The goods sold in this division are limited to goods usually referred to as consumer goods or retail goods. Therefore, goods not normally entering the retail trade sector, such as intermediate goods and industrial machinery are excluded. This division also excludes the sale of farmers’ products by farmers (crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities, Division 01), the combined manufacture and sale of goods which is generally classified as a manufacturing activity (Divisions 10 to 32), the retail sale of motor vehicles, motorcycles and their parts and accessories (classified as part of the motor trades sector, Division 45), the sale of food and drinks for consumption on the premises and sale of takeaway food (included as part of food and beverage service activities, Division 56), or the renting of personal and household goods to the general public (which is part of the renting and leasing of goods, Division 77).
- Distributive trades
- Other analyses of the business economy by NACE Rev. 2 sector
- Structural business statistics introduced
Further Eurostat information
- European business - facts and figures (online publication)
- Key figures on European Business – with a special feature section on SMEs – 2011 edition
- SBS – trade (sbs_dt)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics – trade (sbs_na_dt)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics for trade (NACE Rev. 2 G) (sbs_na_dt_r2)
- SMEs - Annual enterprise statistics by size class – trade (sbs_sc_dt)
- Distributive trades by employment size class (NACE Rev. 2 G) (sbs_sc_dt_r2)
- Distributive trades by size class of turnover (NACE Rev. 2 G) (sbs_sctrn_dt_r2)
- Breakdown of turnover by product - trade (dt_cpa)
- Turnover by product type for wholesale trade (NACE Rev. 2 G46) (dt_cpa_n46_r2)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics – trade (sbs_na_dt)
- SBS - regional data - all activities (sbs_r)
- SBS data by NUTS 2 regions and NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008 onwards) (sbs_r_nuts06_r2)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Decision 1578/2007/EC of 11 December 2007 on the Community Statistical Programme 2008 to 2012
- Regulation 295/2008 of 11 March 2008 concerning structural business statistics