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Retail and wholesale in Europe

Retail and wholesale in Europe

The retail and wholesale sector plays a unique role in human activity. It serves over a billion times a day as the link between manufacturers and the 500 million consumers across Europe.

The retail and wholesale sector is a dynamic, labour-intensive and major sector of the European economy. It generates 11% of the EU's GDP. One in three European companies is in retail and wholesale. Over 99% of these six million companies in retail and wholesale are SMEs (small & medium-sized enterprises).

The sector is also a major source of employment creation: 33 million Europeans work in retail and wholesale and the sector is one the few sectors steadily creating employment across Europe. Two million jobs have been created in retail/wholesale over the last ten years.

The retail and wholesale sector furthermore supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.

  • Facts & figures

    One company out of four in Europe is active in the retail and wholesale sector. Retail and wholesale is one of the main job providers in the EU. Our sector thrives on fierce competition, keeping prices low and boosting innovation in the supply chain.

    Have a look at our latest key facts & infographics 4-pager about the retail and wholesale sector (Published in 2019). 

    See below for some key data, or have a look at our study, "Retail & Wholesale: Key sectors for the European economy".

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    Facts & figures
  • History of retail and wholesale

    Some say retail and wholesale has its origin in pre-historic times approximately 150,000 years ago when people started exchanging goods with each other. The introduction of money facilitated further the trade of merchandises and services.

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    History of retail and wholesale
  • The Value of European Retail – A graphic factbook

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  • Wholesale at the Centre of Europe's Economy

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