Has the global retail sector returned to normal?
The retail sector’s activity has been affected by COVID-19 through social distancing measures and closure of stores. However, the effect of the pandemic on the retail sector varies across countries.
Using a Bayesian structural time-series model, Coface estimated the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail sales in 2020 for a sample of countries: while some countries did experience lower retail sales in 2020, the effect was null in some economies and even positive in Northern European countries.
The impacts are different according to the segments, clothing stores being the most affected. Despite the higher use of e-commerce and after having peaked in Q2 2020, the impact of the pandemic on this segment is difficult to assess as it varies across countries: while e-commerce did increase in 2020, its share seems to have partially decreased in Canada and in the United States in early 2021.
Overall, COVID-19 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 recovery of the retail sector in 2021.