Top 10 sectors with the highest retail chain presence in Belgium

In my previous blog, I focused on retail chain presence in the Netherlands. In this blog, I also studied the Belgian situation in terms of the development of chain stores over the years. And I established two Top 10s of the sectors with the highest retail chain presence: both for the number of sales points, as well as for retail surface. Does your perception match the facts?

The retail chain rate is still progressing in Belgium. However, we’ve noted a turnaround in 2012. Before that time, there was an increase of over 1% point per year. From 2012 this trend was halved to 0.5 or 0.6% per year.


The graph above shows the situation on January 1st of the relevant year. Currently, the share of retail chains in Belgium is 23.6%. Thus, 19486 of the 82476 outlets are part of a retail chain format.

In total, we see as many as 1,035 different formats [1] within the Belgian retail world. But the ratio between retail chains and independent retail varies considerably by sector.

The sector with the highest/lowest
retail chain presence

Locatus distinguishes 137 retail sectors ranging from supermarkets to 2nd hand clothing. As many as 33 of these sectors consist of independent businesses only, and therefore have no branches. Think of sectors like Fur, Souvenirs, Leather Fashion, Antiques, Fishing, Water sports, Coins / Stamps or Comic Strips.

There are also sectors in which independent businesses have a very low presence. If we establish a top10 of the sectors with the highest retail chain rate, Fashion Outlets are n°1 (for instance E5 mode, H&M) representing 91,1% of the sales points.

Top 10 sectors with high retail chain rate (number of sales points):

1 Fashion outlets 91.1%
2 Textile outlets 89.5%
3 Supermarkets 89.0%
4 Drugstores 86.4%
5 Department stores 84.2%
6 Home interior stores 81.1%
7 Hearing aids 80.1%
8 DIY 79.0%
9 Telecom 65.5%
10 Perfume stores 62.0%


Only 23.2% of the shops are part of a retail chain? This probably doesn’t match whit what you expect. This isn’t very strange. When we consider retail space, we see that the subsidiarisation rate is more than twice as much. Bigger stores are often branch stores. Almost 52% of retail space belongs to a retail chain and that percentage is still growing.

As with the number of sales points, we observed an inflection in retail space growth in 2012. Before 2012, the annual increase was around 2% point, since then it has halved to around 1% point.


The top 10 sectors with the highest retail chain presence, based on retail space, is a little different from the top 10 based on the number of sales points. DIY, Perfumery and Telecom are just out of the top 10 and electric appliances (for example BCC, Media Markt) have taken their place.

Top 10 sectors with highest retail chain presence (retail space):

1 Supermarkets 95,7%
2 Drugstores 94,8%
3 Textile retail 90,5%
4 Fashion outlets 89,1%
5 Hearing aids 83,7%
6 Home supplies 83,0%
7 Sporting goods 80,5%
8 Crafts 80,4%
9 Electric appliances 79,6%
10 Department stores 79,2%


Like I mentioned before, I focused on retail chain presence in the Netherlands in my last blog. There, retail chains are clearly more prevalent than in Belgium. However, this difference has become smaller over the years. In 2008 retail chain presence in Belgium, in terms of number of sales points, was half the size of that of the Netherlands. Currently, the ratio is more like 2:3.


[1] Locatus registers a retail chain as a format when it has more than 7 branches