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Retail alliances – working to get the best deal for Europe’s consumers

With the Commission today holding a workshop on joint purchasing and pursuing its review of horizontal competition rules, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

We are asking that the Commission review recognises even more strongly the pro-competitive effects of alliances. Alliances, which exist in all sectors of the economy, combine the sourcing of their members facing stronger, more concentrated suppliers. Retail alliances help, on behalf of Europe’s consumers, partially to rebalance the power of multinational brand manufacturers, whose products make up a large proportion of most consumers’ shopping baskets and customers expect to see on retailers’ shelves. This gives these global manufacturers considerable leverage in negotiating the prices and conditions under which they sell to European retailers, who operate in only a limited number of markets. Alliances also help to mitigate large manufacturers’ fragmentation of the single market and other practices aimed at increasing their already significant margins”.

Retail alliances ensure consumer benefits in terms of prices, choice and innovation, in a concentrated supplier market of large global suppliers. Numerous studies demonstrate that alliances’ activities, which typically involve negotiation of sourcing conditions and services, or the actual purchase of products, lead to a 5-7% reduction in consumer prices. The Commission has over the years explicitly underlined this positive impact of alliances, with Commissioner Breton pointing to this in the context of vaccines, and Executive Vice-President Vestager pointing to their pro-competitive role on numerous occasions.

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Ecommerce growth set to continue in 2020

Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce today jointly launched the European Ecommerce Regional Report 2020. Growth in ecommerce sales reached €636 billion in 2019, up by 14.2% from the previous year. European ecommerce turnover is forecast to grow at around 12.7% and to hit €717 billion in 2020. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector will, however, only show next year.

This report comes out at a time of uncertainty all over the world. The COVID-19 outbreak, and the restrictions it has led to, have had a major impact on business and consumer confidence. While physical shops have maintained supplies of essentials, ecommerce has played a crucial role in maintaining economic activity in Europe. Retailers of all sizes have accelerated their digital transformation, further developing existing and new omnichannel commerce solutions.

Luca Cassetti, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, commented: “We are very proud of the resilience our sector has shown these last months and are delighted to see that the ecommerce industry has been successfully contributing to keeping the Single Market open. While the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the strength of the digital commerce sector, it has also exposed the challenges online merchants still come across. Given the increasing cross-border nature of ecommerce, European businesses have struggled to implement new solutions across the Union due to regulatory fragmentation and diverging national approaches towards the crisis. In light of the current acceleration of the digital and green policy agendas, we need to step up our ambitions for building a stronger European Union with a truly harmonized Single Market.”

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce, commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital change in retail and wholesale. This trend will continue, and to gather further speed. People are now used to buying online, and will continue to do so. Our members are responding to this, but with difficult months - and probably years - ahead, we need urgent help nationally and at EU level to boost resilience and accelerate our sector’s digital transformation.”

To obtain the full version of the report, please visit this website.

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A European Action Plan for Retail

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High-level conference on the European retail sector - 19 JUN 2019

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EuroCommerce’s DG stresses policy and investment needs at World Retail Congress

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren is speaking at the World Retail Congress conference in London today, and said

COVID is a global pandemic and its impact is global, particularly for a people-facing sector such as retail.  We have heard from many of our members in Europe that a worrying number of shops will not stay open once current support measures end.  This is in part the result of repeated and unpredictable government lockdowns over the last 18 months, but also a symptom of the acceleration by the pandemic of the fundamental transformation of the sector to digital and online sales.  Retailers small and large, suffering from historically low margins, need urgent government support to make the investment necessary for digitalisation and sustainability. This is an economic and social imperative needing decisive action not only for our sector but all the other parts of the economy and the local communities we serve.

He is speaking to OECD G20 and G7 sherpa Nicolas Pinaud, and in a panel with Matt Shay, President and CEO of the US National Retail Federation, and Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, on issues surrounding the measures needed to maintain the signs of positive recovery in recent months, in part due to government support.

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