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Key Growth Trends for Retailing in Western Europe

June 2019

The Western European retailing industry is undergoing transformative changes that are creating new opportunities for retailers. This report covers key trends that retailers must understand to grow their businesses within Western Europe: the changing consumer, the hunt for value, the rise of digital commerce, groceries moving online, and the importance of sustainability.

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Key Findings

Changing consumer traits impact retailing

Consumers in Western Europe are budget-savvy, hyperconnected, urban, experience-led, and sensitive to sustainability. Retailers must adapt to consumer needs to survive.

Budget-savvy consumers favour discount channels

The median household income will continue to grow slowly in most countries while a few countries will experience declines. As a result, Western European shoppers are becoming more savvy in their purchases, driving sales growth in discount, store-based channels, such as discounters, variety stores and warehouse clubs.

Hyperconnected consumers turn to digital channels

Internet access is almost universal in Western Europe, with smartphone adoption likely to reach 90% in 2023. Consumers are using these tools for more of their purchases, favouring mobile and cross-border commerce in future.

Urban households prefer online grocery

While the region is already highly urbanised, cities will continue to grow. The industry is doing its best to remove the barriers, especially around logistics, to help spur growth.

Western Europeans value experiences over things

More Western Europeans are valuing spending on experiences over things. This means that retailers need to embrace experiences as a part of their value proposition. Restaurants are at the forefront of this.

Consumers are raising their awareness about sustainability

Consumers are becoming more aware of how their consumption impacts the environment and communities. As a result, they and their governments expect retailers to embrace sustainability.


Key findings

Shifting Consumer Traits

Low income growth means consumers are budget conscious
High possession of internet-enabled devices
Urbanisation will continue
Consumers embrace experiences
Consumers are becoming eco-conscious in their shopping behaviour

The Hunt for Value

Discount stores are top performers
Warehouse clubs channel is getting started in Europe
Grocery discounters aim to evolve
Low prices lure shoppers to variety stores
Company example: Action

Shopping Goes Digital

M-commerce leads the digital revolution in Western Europe
Why Western Europeans like to shop online and in stores
Cross-border and marketplaces are two more key digital trends
Company example: Amazon

Grocery Migrates Online

Food and internet drink retailing to move online quickly
Consumers embracing online grocery shopping
Fulfilment options proliferate
Company example: Ocado

Retail and the Restaurant

Retail industry looks to restaurants for experiences
Grocery retailers evolve their relationship with foodservice
Restaurants as brand extensions
Department stores and shopping centres reimagine foodservice
Company example: FICO Eataly World

Sustainability Takes the Spotlight

Government looks to enforce sustainability
Apps help minimise food waste
Retailers rethink packaging
Ethical fashion gains steam
Company example: H&M’s commitment to ethical fashion


These consumer traits will continue to reshape retailing
The five questions retailers must ask and answer to be successful


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