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ICSC Releases Socio-Economic Impact Report for European Retail Real Estate


The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) today releases its biannual Socio-Economic Impact Report for European Retail Real Estate at MAPIC. The report summarises the power that retail real estate creates for the local economies, from GDP to jobs, as well as the benefits for consumers.

  • ICSC estimates that in Europe, the retail real estate industry directly supports over 27 million jobs or one out of every eight people.
  • Total EU retail real estate turnover reached €2,789 billion in 2016.
  • Retail sales in the EU generated €1,727 billion in tax revenues in 2016 of which approximately 27% occurred in shopping centres.
  • More than 90% of 2016 retailing in the EU happened in a physical store. Including those stores’ online contribution, that number reached 94% for a total of €2.394 trillion.

“Retail real estate is thriving in Europe, as it does around the world,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “The industry continues to keep up with the wants and needs of the consumer and takes on a variety of shapes and sizes. It will continue to be an essential pillar of social and economic growth and commerce, and one that benefits the vitality of its local communities.”

ICSC predicts that by 2022 Millennials are expected to increase their spending on goods and services by 110% from €10,047 in 2012 per person to €21,053, the biggest increase of any age group. By 2022, Millennials will have also shifted the proportion of how they spend their money. They will spend a marginally greater proportion of their discretionary income on things like groceries, leisure and recreation, hotels and restaurants as well as other goods and services. They will spend relatively less on housing (30% to 25%).

McGee continued: “By 2025, Millennials are set to overtake Baby Boomers to become the largest demographic group in Europe and, as they move into their prime spending years, will be a significant consumer group and a key driver of demand for retail real estate. This generation is different than their predecessors and crave experience at their convenience, from interacting with a physical product before purchase to enjoying a meal with friends and family. Retail real estate provides that touchpoint for consumers that cannot be replicated from home or anywhere else.”

Trends highlighted in the report include:

Physical Retail Remains Dominant Sales Channel, Online Growth Slowing

Total 2016 retail spending in the EU was €2.544 trillion, up from €2.491 trillion in 2015. €2.394 trillion, or 94.4% came from store-based retail sales and the online contribution of bricks and mortar retailers. Pure play online retail sales only accounts for 4.4% of total EU retail sales in 2016. The remaining 1.5% comes from other non-store sales.

Flexible Employment and Economy Driven by Retail Real Estate

Retail real estate, in total, provides more than 27 million jobs, accounting for 12.4% of all EU employment. With the retail industry offering flexible work policies, 49% of Europe’s wholesale and retail trade workforce in 2016 were women. This flexibility also reduces “excess” labour and allows retailers to match peak days and hours. It’s also a boon to the younger generation, as nearly 20% of 15-24 year olds work in the wholesale and retail trade sector.

Per the report, tax rates from retail and shopping centres also prove the value these facilities provide to their community beyond retail. While each country has different sales and VAT rates, EU 2016 retail sales generated €1,727 billion in tax revenue, with 27% of those sales occurring in shopping centres. These billions are then reinvested in the community in local municipalities such as schools, government and emergency services.

Redevelopment and Diversification Remain Key Tool to Attract Consumers

As cities continue to grow, the existing bricks and mortar locations are being redeveloped and refurbished to ensure the space is properly equipped to meet the needs of today’s contemporary tenants and consumers continue to spend more of their discretionary income on recreation and services. Property owners are diversifying their tenant mix to include non-retail tenants, such as food and beverage operators, fitness and spa amenities and a wide range of educational, cultural and entertainment facilities.

ICSC members can download the report for free from

About ICSC

ICSC serves the global retail real estate industry. We provide our 70,000+ member network in over 100 countries with invaluable resources, connections and industry insights, and actively work together to shape public policy. For more information about ICSC visit

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Stephanie Cegielski, 1 646-728-3572

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