Wholesale/retail trade in 2008: slower activity
Christophe Michel, Sophie O’Prey, Vincent Vicaire, division Commerce, Insee
Economic activity slowed in the three major sectors of French wholesale/retail trade in 2008. (1) In retail trade and craft businesses, turnover (sales) was still driven by specialised non-food shops and pharmacies, but nevertheless lost momentum. In the food trade, it declined in real terms (i.e., adjusted for inflation), particularly in large retail outlets. (2) In wholesale trade, turnover decelerated even in the traditionally most dynamic categories such as business capital goods and non-food consumer goods; turnover retreated in other sectors apart from trade in raw agricultural products, which were the exception thanks to the robust performance of cereal markets. (3) In the trade and repair of motor vehicles, turnover decreased. In the total wholesale/retail trade sector, paid employment posted mild growth on an annual average basis but fell in fourth-quarter 2008 on a year-on-year basis, i.e., measured against the same year-earlier quarter. The total number of firms increased slightly, and the number of new units declined, although they still account for one-quarter of business creation in the total French economy.