Retail trade: record growth in 2020, contraction in December

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that in 2020 the Dutch retail sector achieved 5.9 percent year-on-year turnover growth, the second-highest growth rate recorded this century. However, due to the measures against the spread of coronavirus, there are great divergences within the sector. Turnover was up by 6.9 percent in the food sector but remained virtually the same in the non-food sector. Furthermore, online turnover grew by 43.5 percent in 2020. The retail sector ended the year with a negative result, namely 3.1 percent turnover loss in December.

Turnover retail sector* (adjusted for shopping days)
 monthchange (year-on-year % change)
2015January1.4
2015February2.4
2015March1.4
2015April1.6
2015May1.4
2015June4
2015July2.9
2015August1
2015September5
2015October2.4
2015November1.1
2015December2.8
2016January1.5
2016February2.2
2016March1.5
2016April0.8
2016May3.5
2016June1.4
2016July2.8
2016August2.1
2016September0.4
2016October5.2
2016November5
2016December2.3
2017January5
2017February2.9
2017March4.6
2017April4.3
2017May3.8
2017June4.5
2017July4.5
2017August4.5
2017September5.8
2017October1.5
2017November5.4
2017December3.7
2018January3.6
2018February3
2018March1.7
2018April5.7
2018May3.7
2018June3.2
2018July3.8
2018August3.5
2018September1.9
2018October3.4
2018November4.2
2018December2.6
2019January1.5
2019February4.1
2019March4.1
2019April1.9
2019May2.6
2019June3.1
2019July3
2019August2.9
2019September4.4
2019October3.6
2019November2.4
2019December5.2
2020January3.6
2020February5
2020March3.3
2020April-1
2020May8.7
2020June10.4
2020July9.5
2020August10.4
2020September7.5
2020October7.4
2020November10.3
2020December-3.1
*excluding petrol stations and pharmacies

Contraction in December

On 14 December 2020, the government announced a strict lockdown to prevent coronavirus infections. Many non-food shops had to close their doors. As a result, retail turnover was down by 3.1 percent in December year-on-year. Turnover in the non-food sector decreased by 22.6 percent, while turnover in the food sector grew by 9.3 percent. In addition, online turnover was 58.3 percent up in December.

Many non-food shops were hit hard by the government’s decision to shut down stores in mid-December. Turnover of shops selling footwear and leather products and clothes shops shrank by 46.7 and 45.3 percent respectively in that month. Shops selling recreational goods, shops selling consumer electronics and white goods and shops selling furniture and household articles also experienced a significant loss of turnover. Turnover of shops selling DIY products, kitchens and flooring remained virtually unchanged compared to one year previously, while shops selling personal care products achieved 4.6 percent turnover growth.

Turnover retail sector* (adjusted for shopping days)
YearTurnover (2015=100)
2005-0.2
20065.2
20074
20082
2009-4.3
2010-0.5
20110
2012-1.4
2013-2.1
20141.3
20152.3
20162.4
20174.2
20183.4
20193.3
20205.9
*excluding petrol stations and pharmacies

Second highest turnover growth of this century

Retail trade achieved a turnover increase of 5.9 percent in 2020. At over 6 percent, turnover growth was only higher in 2001. The food sector realised the highest turnover growth of this century with 6.9 percent, while the non-food sector achieved virtually the same turnover as in 2019 (-0.1 percent). Online sales were 43.5 percent higher in 2020, the largest growth since the publication of online sales in 2014.

Wide disparities within non-food

There were wide disparities within the non-food sector in 2020. Shops selling DIY products, kitchens and flooring, shops selling consumer electronics and white goods, shops selling furniture and household articles and shops selling recreational goods achieved record turnover. On the other hand, clothes shops and shops selling footwear and leather goods suffered heavy losses, partly due to the store closures in the spring and in December.

Record growth in food sector

Last year, shops selling food, beverages and tobacco realised 6.9 percent higher turnover than in 2019. Supermarkets generated 7.1 percent and specialist shops 5.7 percent more turnover. The food sector seems to have benefited from the coronavirus crisis more than it was disadvantaged.

Turnover branches retail sector* (adjusted for shopping days)
 2020 (year-on-year % change)2019 (year-on-year % change)
Total food6.91.4
Supermarkets7.11.7
Specialised shops5.7-0.6
Total non-food-0.12.6
DIY shops, kitchens, floors19.56.9
Consumer electronics, white goods8.52
Furniture, home furnishings7.77.1
Recreational goods5.3-2.8
Chemist's shops2.41.5
Footwear and leather goods -18.4-0.9
Clothing-19.6-0.3
* excluding petrol stations and pharmacies

Online shops realise over 43 percent turnover growth

In 2020, online shops saw their turnover go up by 43.5 percent relative to 2019, the highest growth rate since the start of the publication of internet sales in January 2014. Webshops recorded a turnover increase of 35.8 percent; their core activity is selling goods and services over the internet. Multi-channel retailers (retailers selling goods and services over the internet as a side activity) achieved over 54.6 percent higher turnover in online sales.