Retail trade and repair statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

From Statistics Explained

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

This article introduces a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the economic activities in the retail trade and repair sector in the European Union (EU). According to the statistical classification of economic activities in the EU (NACE Rev 1.1), this sector covers NACE Division 52, which is the retailing and repair of personal and household goods, and comprises the resale without transformation of new and used goods to the general public for personal or household use and consumption. The activities of this sector are treated in more depth in six further articles:

Note that the retail trade and repair ector does not include the retail trade of motor vehicles, motorcycles or automotive fuel (NACE Division 50), nor the renting and hiring of personal and household goods to the public.

Figure 1: Retail trade (NACE Groups 52.1 to 52.6). Breakdown of turnover, 2006 (%) (1)
Figure 2: In-store food retailing (NACE Class 52.11 and Group 52.2). Breakdown of turnover, 2006 (%) (1)
Figure 3: In-store new goods retailing other than food (NACE Class 52.12 and Groups 52.3 and 52.4). Breakdown of turnover, 2006 (%) (1)
Table 1: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Structural profile, EU-27, 2006
Figure 4: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Share of retail trade and repair, EU-27, 2006 (%)
Table 2: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States, 2006
Map 1: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Persons employed in retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52) as a proportion of those employed in the non-financial business economy (NACE Sections C to I and K) (%), 2006
Figure 5: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Index of employment, EU-27 (2000=100)
Figure 6: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Index of turnover, EU-27 (2000=100)
Table 3: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Share of value added and persons employed by enterprise size class, EU-27, 2006 (%)
Figure 7: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Employment characteristics, 2007
Table 4: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Expenditure, productivity and profitability, EU-27, 2006
Table 5: Retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52). Main indicators, 2006 (1)

Main statistical findings

Structural profile

The enterprise population of the EU-27's retail trade and repair (NACE Division 52) sector was around 3.8 million in 2006, close to one fifth (18.8 %) of all enterprises in the non-financial business economy (NACE Sections C to I and K). These enterprises employed 17.5 million persons, 13.5 % of the non-financial business economy workforce. With a 79.7 % share of paid employees in persons employed in 2006, the EU-27 retail trade and repair sector posted the second highest proportion of self-employed and unpaid family workers of all the non-financial business economy NACE divisions, just after real estate activities (NACE Division 70).

The retail trade and repair sector's turnover was valued at EUR 2 271.8 billion, from which EUR 418.4 billion value added was generated, equivalent to 10.2 % and 7.4 % of the non-financial business economy total. From these shares the main characteristics of the retail trade and repair sector can be derived: there were a very large number of enterprises, having a small average size, producing relatively high turnover but less value added, with a low apparent labour productivity. The retail trade and repair sector was the second largest of the structural business statistics sectors in terms of its number of enterprises, the size of its workforce, and its turnover – only lower than for business services (see Business services statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1) for the first two measures, and only lower than for wholesale trade (see Wholesale trade statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1) in terms of turnover; in value added terms, retail trade and repair was the fourth largest sector.

Based on an analysis at the level of the activities presented in the six sub-sectors of the retail trade and repair sector, specialised in-store new goods retailing other than food (NACE Groups 52.3 and 52.4) and non-specialised in-store retailing (NACE Group 52.1) were the largest retail activities, using the measures of value added and employment. Specialised in-store new goods retailing other than food generated more than half (53.8 %, in 2005) of the EU-27’s retail trade and repair sector's value added and employed close to half (49.0 %) of the sectoral workforce.

With EUR 87.1 billion of value added, the United Kingdom was the largest contributor to the EU-27’s retail trade and repair sector in 2006, followed by Germany (EUR 76.1 billion), and these two Member States had the largest workforces in this sector, approaching 3 million persons in each country. As a share of the non-financial business economy value added total, the retail trade and repair sector was the largest in Greece (12.0 % of the national total) and Cyprus (10.1 %). This sector contributed relatively high proportions to the national non-financial business economy workforce, particularly in Greece where it reached one fifth of the total – it should be noted that the high contributions of the retail trade and repair sector to non-financial business economy employment in many Member States are affected by the importance of part-time employment in this sector (see below).

The specialisation in each region (in some cases the whole country is treated as one region) can be seen from the map which shows the contribution of retail trade and repair employment to the non-financial business economy workforce. Even in the region with the highest share of non-financial business economy employment concentrated in the retail trade and repair sector, 27.1 % in Dytiki Ellada (Greece), this share was less than 3.5 times as high as the region with the lowest share, 7.8 % in Západné Slovensko (Slovakia); this was a lower range than for any of the other maps shown in the structural business statistics sector articles. The specialisation of Greece in this sector is emphasised by the presence of seven Greek regions among the ten most specialised within the EU.

Annual short-term statistics show the development of this sector over several years. Between 1998 and 2007 the index of employment for retail trade and repair followed a roughly similar path to that for non-financial services (NACE Sections G to I and Divisions 72 and 74) as a whole, with slower growth at the beginning and end of this period. As a result, retail trade and repair employment grew by 1.8 % per year, on average, between 1998 and 2007, whereas the rate for non-financial services was 2.3 % per year.

The EU-27’s turnover index for retail trade and repair rose every year between 1997 and 2007, with growth rarely below 3 %, reaching a maximum of 5.0 % in 2001. Turnover indices are also available for the four largest retail trade NACE groups (Groups 52.1 to 52.4), with a time series starting at least in 1998 for each of these activities. Over the period 1998 to 2007, turnover growth for retail trade and repair in the EU-27 averaged 3.6 % per year, with the rate for specialised retailing of food, beverages and tobacco less than half this rate (1.4 %), while the retailing of pharmaceuticals, medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries was well above (4.8 %).

Average turnover per enterprise in the EU-27 varied greatly between the various parts of the retail trade and repair sector in 2006, ranging from EUR 1.5 million (2005) for non-specialised in-store retailing to less than one tenth of this size (EUR 123.2 thousand) for second-hand goods retailing (NACE Group 52.5); unsurprisingly, the repair of personal and household goods (NACE Group 52.7), which is not a retail trade activity, recorded an even lower average turnover per enterprise (EUR 86.2 thousand).

A size class analysis for the EU-27’s retail trade and repair sector for 2006 shows that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, enterprises with less than 250 persons employed) generated 56.4 % of retail trade and repair value added and 65.1 % of the sector's employment. These shares were broadly comparable with the averages recorded for the whole of the non-financial business economy.

However, among SMEs, the contribution of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises was distinctly different in the retail trade and repair sector than in the non-financial business economy. Micro enterprises (with less than 10 persons employed) accounted for close to one third of retail trade and repair value added, and over two fifths of employment, well above the non-financial business economy averages. As a result, the contribution of small enterprises (with 10 to 49 persons employed) and medium-sized enterprises (with 50 to 249 persons employed) to retail trade and repair value added was below the non-financial business economy average, particularly in the case of medium-sized enterprises. As such, the retail trade and repair sector can be characterised as having a dominant micro enterprise subpopulation, alongside a significant subpopulation of large enterprises.

Focus on retail trade turnover

Specialised in-store retailing (NACE Groups 52.2 to 52.5) generated just over half (52.4 %) of retail trade (NACE Groups 52.1 to 52.6) turnover in 2006 in the EU (based on data for 25 of the Member States [1]), while non-specialised in-store retailing (NACE Group 52.1) generated 43.0 % of the total. Retailing not in-stores (NACE Group 52.6) accounted for the remainder (4.6 %). Germany, where mail order sales were particularly high, topped the rankings for this latter type of retailing, with 8.5 % of German retail trade turnover derived outside of stores.

In 12 of the 25 Member States with data available at least half of retail trade turnover was generated by specialised in-store retailers, while non-specialised in-store retailers generated half or more of retail trade turnover in just three Member States – Slovenia, Finland and Lithuania. The highest share for specialised in-store retailers was 66.0 % in Greece.

However, underlying the relatively even split between specialised and non-specialised in-store retail turnover are two quite different situations, when food, beverage and tobacco products are separated from all other new products. For food, beverages and tobacco products non-specialised retailers (NACE Class 52.11) were dominant relative to specialised retailers (NACE Group 52.2) in every Member State. In the EU (again based on an average for 25 of the Member States [2]), only 13.7 % of turnover was recorded in specialised food, beverages and tobacco retailers, a share that fell to 5 % or less in the Baltic Member States and Slovenia. At the other end of the spectrum, specialised retailers generated relatively high shares of turnover in some of the southern Member States – particularly in Greece and Spain – as well as in Poland and Austria.

In contrast, the in-store retailing of other new products was dominated by specialised retailers. Only in Finland (24.3 %) and Slovakia (34.5 %) did the share of non-specialised retailers exceed even one fifth of total turnover for new goods other than food, beverages and tobacco, while the average for the EU (based on data for 24 of the Member States [3]) was 9.3 %.

Employment characteristics

According to results from the Labour force survey, a high proportion of the EU-27’s retail trade and repair workforce were women (62.2 %) in 2007. This split between male and female workers was almost a mirror image of the average for the non-financial business economy, where 35.1 % of workers were female. The retail trade and repair workforce had the second highest proportion of women in its workforce among all of the NACE divisions that make up the non-financial business economy, only less than for clothing manufacturing activities (NACE Division 18, see Textile production statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1). The female share of retail trade and repair employment was systematically higher than the average recorded for the non-financial business economy in each of the Member States, rising to over twice as high in Luxembourg, Slovakia and Poland.

There was also a high incidence of part-time work (28.9 % of the workforce) in the EU-27’s retail trade and repair sector in 2007, just over double the non-financial business economy average (14.3 %). The proportion of part-time employment in retail trade and repair activities was the highest among all of the NACE divisions that constitute the non-financial business economy. In relative terms, high part-time employment in this sector was particularly evident in Slovakia, the Nordic Member States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, where the part-time employment rate was at least 2.3 times as high as the national non-financial business economy average.

There was also a particularly high number of young persons employed in the EU-27’s retail trade and repair workforce in 2007, as 31.2 % of those employed were aged between 15 and 29, compared with the 24.3 % average for the non-financial business economy. The retail trade and repair sector reported the second highest share of younger workers among all the NACE divisions of the non-financial business economy [4], below the share recorded for hotels and restaurants. As a consequence the shares of the two other age groups were below average; persons aged 30 to 49 accounted for less than half the retail trade and repair workforce, making this one of only two non-financial business economy NACE divisions where this was the case.

Expenditure, productivity and profitability

Typically for a distributive trade activity, the level of gross investment in tangible goods was low in the retail trade and repair sector, EUR 61.3 billion in the EU-27 in 2006. This was equivalent to 5.9 % of non-financial business economy total investment, and resulted in an investment rate (gross tangible investment as a percentage of value added) of 14.7 %, higher than the two other distributive trades sectors, but still 3.7 percentage points below the non-financial business economy average. Among the retail trade and repair NACE groups only non-specialised in-store retailing recorded an investment rate above the non-financial business economy average, reaching 20.4 %. A small number of Member States recorded an investment rate in the retail trade and repair sector that were above their national non-financial business economy averages, notably Slovenia where the investment rate in this sector reached 47.4 %.

Also characteristic of an activity within distributive trades was the low share of personnel costs in total operating expenditure: the retail trade and repair sector's personnel costs represented 12.3 % of operating expenditure, admittedly higher than in motor or wholesale trades, but below the 16.1 % non-financial business economy average. The subsector concerning the repair of household goods (NACE Group 52.7) was the main exception for this indicator, as personnel costs amounted to 26.8 % of the operating expenditure total. It should be noted that any analysis of personnel costs only reflects the cost of paid employees, and that the proportion of paid employees in the total number of persons employed within the retail trade and repair sector was relatively low. Furthermore, care should be taken when comparing ratios based on simple head counts across Member States or activities because of the high incidence of part-time employment in the retail trade and repair sector. Average personnel costs in the retail trade and repair sector were EUR 18.7 thousand per employee in 2006 and apparent labour productivity was EUR 23.9 thousand per person employed. An analysis of the wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio that combines these two ratios reduces the impact of the high rate of part-time employment. This ratio was 128.1 % for the EU-27's retail trade and repair sector in 2006, well below the level recorded in the other two distributive trades sectors and also far below the 151.1 % average for the non-financial business economy. Two of the subsectors had particularly low wage-adjusted labour productivity ratios, namely retailing not in stores (NACE Group 52.6) and the repair of household goods, which registered ratios of 96.9 % and 101.1 % respectively: in the first of these two subsectors apparent labour productivity was less than average personnel costs (giving a ratio below 100 %), while in the second it was only marginally higher. In fact, these two were the two lowest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratios recorded by any NACE groups within the non-financial business economy in 2006.

All of the Member States [5]recorded a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio for their retail trade and repair sector below the average for their non-financial business economy: in the case of Italy a ratio of just 96.4 % was recorded, while in Greece the ratio was 98.8 %, in both cases indicating that average personnel costs exceeded apparent labour productivity.

Profitability for the EU-27’s retail trade and repair sector, here measured by the gross operating rate, was 7.0 % in 2006, higher than in the two other distributive trades sectors, but still below the average rate for the non-financial business economy (10.8 %), influenced as for all distributive activities by the high levels of turnover. Unsurprisingly, as it is not a retail trade activity, the subsector concerning the repair of household goods recorded the highest gross operating rate in 2006, 19.5 %.

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.

Other data sources include short-term statistics (STS) and the Labour force survey (LFS).

Context

Retailing is typically the final stage of distribution between producers and consumers. Since the development of the Internet, there has been an increasing use of commerce via the web. As such, there has been a gradual shift from traditional methods of purchasing from stores or markets to purchasing remotely. According to Eurostat’s information society statistics, some 12 % of the turnover of distributive trades (including motor trades (NACE Division 50) and wholesale trades (NACE Division 51), as well as retail trade and repair) enterprises with ten or more persons employed was derived from e-commerce in 2008. According to the same source, one quarter of the EU-27’s population ordered or bought goods or services for private use through the Internet in 2008 (during the three months preceding the survey). Note that these figures refer to goods and services supplied to individuals by all sectors of the economy, not just enterprises that are specialised in retail sales.

In October 2008, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Directive on consumer rights (COM(2008) 614), to try to make purchases easier and safer, whether in-store or not. The proposal covers the provision of price information, protection against late delivery and non delivery, as well as setting out rights on issues such as cooling-off periods, returns, refunds, repairs and guarantees and unfair contract term.

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Notes

  1. EU average; Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Poland, 2005; excluding Malta and the Netherlands.
  2. EU average, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Poland, 2005; excluding Denmark and Malta.
  3. EU average; Bulgaria and Poland, 2005; excluding Denmark, Malta and the Netherlands.
  4. NACE Division 12, not available.
  5. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, 2005; Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands, not available.
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