Non-specialised wholesale trade statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

From Statistics Explained

Data from January 2009. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article belongs to a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the various economic activities in the European Union (EU). According to the statistical classification of economic activities in the EU (NACE Rev 1.1), the present article covers non-specialized wholesale trade, corresponding to NACE Group 51.9, which is part of the wholesale trade sector. The activities covered in this article are:

  • the specialised own-account wholesaling of products not covered in the other sub-sectors of the wholesale trade sector;
  • non-specialised wholesaling, where enterprises resell a variety of products.
Table 1: Other wholesale (NACE Group 51.9). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States in terms of value added and persons employed, 2006

Main statistical findings

Structural profile

Turnover in the EU-27's other wholesale trade (NACE Group 51.9) sector in 2006 was EUR 209.7 billion, therefore contributing 4.6 % of wholesale trade (NACE Division 51) turnover. The other wholesale trade sector generated EUR 26.6 billion of value added, which was equivalent to 5.1 % of the wholesale trade total. According to both of these output measures, this was the second smallest wholesale trade NACE group. Its biggest contribution to the wholesale trade total was in terms of employment, where the 664.7 thousand persons employed in the other wholesale trade sector accounted for 6.7 % of the wholesale trade workforce.

The EU-27's other wholesale trade sector was dominated by three Member States, with the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland (2005) collectively contributing around three fifths of total value added and employment. Poland's share of the EU-27's workforce in this sector was particularly significant, more than one third (34.2 %) in 2005. Unsurprisingly, in value added terms Poland was the most specialised Member State [1]; Slovakia and Hungary were also relatively specialised, with this sector contributing 2.3 % of national non-financial business economy (NACE Sections C to I and K) value added.

Expenditure and productivity

The level of investment recorded in the other wholesale trade sector was valued at EUR 3.4 billion in 2006, 6.4 % of the wholesale trade total. Although this was relatively small in value terms, the investment rate (gross tangible investment relative to value added) was 12.8 %, the second highest among wholesale trade activities.

An analysis of operating expenditure in the other wholesale trade sector showed that 6.3 % of expenditure was used for personnel costs in the EU-27, in line with the 6.5 % average for wholesale trade. Average personnel costs were particularly low in this sector, just EUR 21.7 thousand per employee, equivalent to two thirds of the wholesale trade average. While the apparent labour productivity (EUR 40.0 thousand per person employed) was also the lowest among the wholesale trade activities presented in sub-sectors of the wholesale trade sector, it was equivalent to three quarters of the wholesale trade average. As a consequence of the particularly low average personnel costs, the EU-27’s other wholesale trade sector had a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio of 184.9 %, 25.1 percentage points above the wholesale trade average, the highest of the wholesale trade NACE groups, and the fourth highest among the non-financial services (NACE Sections G to I and K) NACE groups.

Data sources and availability

The main part of the analysis in this article is derived from structural business statistics (SBS), including core, business statistics which are disseminated regularly, as well as information compiled on a multi-yearly basis, and the latest results from development projects.


The activities in NACE Division 51 cover all wholesale trade except that concerning motor vehicles and motorcycles: the wholesaling of automotive fuel is considered as a wholesale trade rather than a motor trade. This article covers resale (sale without transformation) of new and used products, as well as wholesale activities carried out on a fee or contract basis.

The wholesaling activity consists of selling to retailers or to industrial, commercial, institutional and professional users. Wholesalers can act on a fee or contract basis as agents or for their own account, buying and selling goods. The own-account wholesale sub-sectors distinguish the types of product in which the wholesaler is specialised (agricultural products, consumer goods, intermediate goods, machinery and equipment), while specialised wholesalers of other products are included in non-specialised wholesalers (this article).

In the supply chain, wholesalers are located between producers and users, providing know-how and knowledge in markets for which they have expertise. Competition within the wholesale trade activity is often centred on providing more efficient services or more sophisticated value added services. Wholesalers can provide a range of services from basic storage and break of bulk, sorting, grading and logistics to pre- and post-production operations (for instance, labelling, packaging, bottling and installation).

Further Eurostat information


Main tables


Dedicated section

See also


  1. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, 2005; Malta and the Netherlands, not available.