Has the global retail sector returned to normal?
The retail sector’s activity has been affected by the COVID crisis through social distancing measures and closure of stores. However, the effect of the pandemic on the sector greatly varies across countries and segments. While some countries did experience lower retail sales in 2020, the effect was null in others and even positive in Northern European countries. The impacts are also different according to the segments, clothing stores being the most affected.
Overall, COVID should have a limited impact on the retail sector and the most impacted segments are expected to recover as soon as the situation eases. However, maritime freight disruptions, which cause supply issues and higher inflation, could be an obstacle to the full recovery of the retail sector in 2021.
« Although the retail sector was impacted by the COVID-19 crisis (store closing, rise of online shopping…), it would have been in a good position for a quick and full recovery without the disruptions on the transport sector and higher commodity prices. Higher rates & commodity prices and longer delivery times are pushing prices up all along the supply chain and causing shortages, that are a real threat to the sector and may delay its full recovery »,comments Erwan Madelénat, economist at Coface.
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