Western Europe Retail Trends 2021

7 Predictions for the Coming Year

About This Report
Retail ecommerce sales in Western Europe rose by 26.3% in 2020, to €481.54 billion ($539.18 billion). The pandemic is fueling other shifts in the retail landscape, too, such as a greater focus on buying local.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Ecommerce sales in Western Europe leaped 26.3% in 2020, driven by digital buying during the pandemic. By contrast, total retail sales fell. For both consumers and retailers, the year brought a tremendous shock.

How has the pandemic affected retail sales in Western Europe?

Total retail sales suffered massively in 2020, as many consumers were in lockdown and physical stores selling nonessential goods closed for long periods. We expect that total retail sales in Western Europe fell by 3.6% in 2020, to €3.616 trillion ($4.049 trillion). Sales should bounce back to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, however.

How have regional shoppers’ attitudes and priorities changed in the wake of the pandemic?

Many people turned to online retailers when they couldn’t get to physical shops. In particular, more consumers bought food, cleaning products, and household items online than before; much of that increase will be sustained. Consumers have also become more aware of the importance of local merchants and sustainable product sourcing.

Is Amazon still gaining traction in Western Europe?

Yes, Amazon was one of the biggest winners during the pandemic, as a go-to supplier when local stores were closed or out of stock. But many leading national and regional retailers also launched ecommerce initiatives to help consumers and smaller merchants get through the crisis.

What are the most important learnings from 2020 for retailers and brands?

More than ever, consumers want retailers and brands to act transparently, and responsibly, and provide practical solutions—whether that means maintaining affordable prices, offering new delivery options, supporting local stores, or making their own operations more eco-friendly.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report summarizes our latest forecasts for retail and retail ecommerce sales in Western Europe and explores several key trends shaping both online and offline retail in the region in 2021.

KEY STAT: Largely as a result of the pandemic, retail ecommerce sales in Western Europe jumped by 26.3% in 2020, to €481.54 billion ($539.18 billion). But ecommerce growth will be minimal in 2021, as physical retail will recover to some degree.

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    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Western Europe Retail Snapshot
    3. The Coronavirus-Era Consumer
    4. No. 1: Newly Formed Digital Shopping Habits Will Stick
    5. No. 2: Mindful Shoppers Will Look for More Local, Eco-Friendly Options
    6. No. 3: Consumers Will Be More Attuned to Brand Purpose and Messaging
    1. Retailer Perspectives
    2. No. 4: All Retailers Will Need to Rethink the Physical-Digital Connection
    3. No. 5: More Retailers Will Revise Their Supply Chains
    4. No. 6: Regional Players Will Try Harder to Counter Amazon
    5. No. 7: A Direct-to-Consumer Shakeout Is Underway
    6. Key Takeaways
    1. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    2. Read Next
    3. Sources
    4. Media Gallery

    Charts in This Report

    Interviewed for This Report

    Paul Frampton Calero
    Control v Exposed
    President, EMEA and APAC
    Interviewed June 25, 2020
    James Hanscomb
    GroupM Services, UK and EMEA
    Head of Ecommerce
    Interviewed June 16, 2020

    Read This With Insider Intelligence


    Karin von Abrams


    Alina Brentnall
    Researcher, Europe
    Oscar Bruce Jr.
    Senior Forecasting Analyst
    Matteo Ceurvels
    Research Analyst
    Bill Fisher
    Senior Analyst
    Angela Kim
    Senior Researcher
    Cindy Liu
    Senior Forecasting Analyst
    Shelleen Shum
    Senior Director, Forecasting
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