Global Overview of the Wholesale and Retail Industry

July 2021

The briefing examines how retail and wholesale industry performs globally and in the largest countries in terms of retail and wholesale output. The report also provides data for production, market size, imports, exports, industry’s costs, industry’s profitability and number of companies. The industry and market overview provide benchmarks against other countries in the region.

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Key findings


Increasing importance of e-commerce segment, which was visible during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, is set to continue. Habits formed during the lockdown period as well as consumers’ conscious behaviour related to social distancing in traditional brick-and-mortar stores will be the main support factors.

Technology and automation

With the e-commerce channel growing in popularity, technology is expected to gain importance as well. This covers decreasing dependence on traditional labour force, warehouse automation and robotisation, better and more efficient inventory management.

Analytics and personalisation

As with technology, the rise of e-commerce creates opportunities for retailers in the area of analytics and personalisation. Thanks to big data collection and analytics, retailers will be able to create better tailored offers to individual needs, this way increasing customer trust and loyalty.

Sustainability and brand image

Global climate change and rising consumer awareness will place extra pressure on retailers, making sustainable operations and brand image particularly important. This includes sustainable product strategy, production and material sourcing, supply chain management as well as proper communications of brands’ environmental friendliness.


Examining four trends shaping the retail and wholesale industry
COVID-19: impact on retail and wholesale industry
Retail and wholesale among the most COVID-19 affected industries
Production value to fully recover in 2021
US and China continue to dominate global industry
Some inflationary pressure to be passed on to consumers
Strong consumer demand to support market expansion in Europe
Walmart Inc to continue leading within the retail and wholesale industry
Total number of companies declines due to consolidation
Industry concentration to increase as some retailers continue to struggle with fixed costs
China, the US and Eastern Europe to drive future production value growth
Most countries forecast to swiftly recover from COVID-19 shock - already by 2021
Key future trends shaping the global industry
US A : Industry to witness growth exceeding pre-pandemic levels in the short term
Strong consumer demand to lift retail segment and drive the industry’s growth
China : industry remains resilient to COVID-19 shock
Wholesale segment to witness the highest growth within the industry
Japan : industry remains resilient to COVID-19 shock
Sale, maintenance and repair of automotives to drive the industry’s expansion
Germany : Forecast growth only slightly above pre-COVID-19 levels
Germans to increase consumption and support the retail segment
India : Retail industry to witness exceptionally strong growth over the forecast period
Strong retail sales to drive the industry’s expansion
France : Slightly longer recovery to pre-pandemic production value levels
Sale, maintenance and repair of motor vehicles to support production value growth
U K : Industry to witness growth by far exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels
Wholesale segment to expand at the fastest pace
Italy : dramatic decrease in industry turnover thanks to COVID-19
Sale, maintenance, and repair of motor vehicles segment to flourish amid strong demand
Russia : industry remains resilient to COVID-19 shock
Sale of automotives and fuel to boost retail and wholesale industry performance
Canada : industry to expand at a high rate over the forecast period
Automotives to lead growth


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