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5 years of Factsheet Benelux: differences between 2021 and 2017

This year marks the fifth time that we publish our factsheet with retail data of the Benelux. This factsheet summarizes the most important key figures of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. This gives us an insight into the current state of affairs. However, to what extent does 2021 differ from 2017? We have compared the two, to find out:

  • The total number of retail outlets is decreasing in both the Netherlands (-2.1%) as in Belgium (-3%), while we can actually see an increase of 4.5% in Luxembourg over the past four years.

  • The retail floor space of the retail sector has increased most in Luxembourg, by 21.4%% compared to 2017. Belgium shows a slight increase (2.4%). However, the Netherlands shows a very slim decrease (0.7%). Since 2020, we also record the retail floor space (RFS) of non-retail. You can find this data in the latest factsheet.


  • The number of different retail activities has decreased, on balance, by around 4% over the past four years. This means that there are more sectors that have disappeared, than there are new sectors that have emerged over time. New sectors include Nail salon, CBD, Shisha Lounge, Crepes/Waffles/Donuts and Trampoline parks.

  • In all three countries, the number of retail chains has increased. In the Netherlands by 4.7%, and in Belgium and Luxembourg by over 9%.

  • However, the total number of retail chain outlets shows us a different trend. In the Netherlands and Belgium, there has been a decrease of 2.5-2.7%. Only in Luxembourg has the total number of retail chain outlets increased, by 14.4%.

  • As there was also a decrease in the total number of retail outlets, the degree of branching has remained more or less the same for the Netherlands and Belgium. Only Luxembourg shows an increase of 2.2% point.

  • The spread of the number of retail outlets across the various types of outlets has remained virtually the same in the Netherlands and Belgium. There seems to only be a substantial shift in Luxembourg. This is due to the completion of a number of new planned shopping centres. This may also explain the increase in retail chain outlets as these often predominate in these planned shopping centres.

  • The spread across the different retail sectors remains more or less the same in the Netherlands. In Belgium and Luxembourg, we see an increase in vacancy and For services. This can me mostly explained by the subcategories Clothing & Luxury, Leisure and Home & Garden.

  • Over the past four years, the vacancy rates have increased throughout the entire Benelux. Luxembourg shows the largest increase (from 6.9% to 9.2%). The construction of new shopping centres has led to a significant increase in number of retail outlets. However, when taking the vacancy rates into account, this seems to be too much for the current market. In Belgium, the number of retail outlets has decreased. However, we can see that developments in the suburbs are cancelling out the effects of conversion from retail to other purposes. Here, the vacancy has increased from 9.6% to 11.8%. In the Netherlands, the hospitality industry has filled a large share of the vacant properties. In addition, retail premises have also been converted into homes or offices over the years. Thus, the vacancy rate has increased the least, from 7.2% to 7.5%.

  • In the Benelux factsheet, we can also see the vacancy rates per province. The following graph compares 2021 to 2017.

    Most provinces in the Netherlands show similar figures compared to those of four years ago. However, there are a number of provinces that stand out negatively. For the Netherlands, these are Limburg, Flevoland and Noord-Holland; the vacancy rate has risen most here.
    In Belgium, we can see an increase in vacancy rates for all provinces. The rise is the least steep in Antwerpen and Vlaams Brabant.

  • Do you want to learn more about the current retail data of the Benelux? Download our new Factsheet Benelux.

    Download Factsheet Benelux 2021

Ask Björn Jansen

Björn Jansen has been advising real estate agencies and retailers for many years. He will be happy to discuss how we can help you to invest in the right retail locations.