EU Wholesale Trade: Analysis of the Sector and Value Chains


Ella Broos, Bernhard Dachs, Martina Dünser, Doris Hanzl-Weiss, Kristof Mertens, Doris Schartinger, Robert Stehrer and Valentijn Vanoeteren

wiiw Research Report No. 415, December 2016
173 pages including 28 Tables and 94 Figures

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This report investigates wholesale as one of the main service industries in the European economy. Wholesale is the resale of new and used goods to retailers, industrial, commercial, institutional or professional users, or to other wholesalers on their own account or for third parties. It plays a pivotal role in the European Single Market by bridging national markets and connecting producers, retail trade and industrial demand across Europe. Wholesale employs about 10 million persons in the EU-28 and accounts for a share of 7-9% in total employment in most EU Member States. The share of micro and small enterprises is considerably higher than in manufacturing. The sector reveals considerable heterogeneity in terms of firm size, productivity and profitability across EU Member States and wholesale sub-sectors. Moreover, the report sheds light on the integration of the wholesale sector in value chains with upstream manufacturers and downstream retailers, and on the role of technology and innovation in wholesale.


Keywords: wholesale, EU integration, value chains, services, innovation

JEL classification: L16, L81

Countries covered: European Union

Research Areas: Sectoral studies