Groceries make up record 66% of all consumer spending in physical stores in Romania
Despite the rise of e-commerce, Romanian consumers still prefer to make their grocery shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. As much as 66% of all consumer spending in physical stores in Romania went to groceries, while the regional average stands at 59%.
The e-commerce sector has recently seen significant growth in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. The share of online sales in the region grew by 9 pp to 15% in the last 5 years, and is set to reach 20% in the next four years, according to a CBRE forecast.
The remaining 85% of sales take place in brick-and-mortar shops. This places the CEE in a similar position to other more developed regions. In the US, for example, e-commerce accounted for 14.3% of all sales in the first quarter of 2022, down from 17.8% at the end of the previous quarter, according to official data.
E-commerce in the CEE is dominated by sales of electronic goods (14%), and clothes and footwear (10%), but there is evidence of growth in online sales for nearly all categories of products. Offline shopping, however, is still growing, and the biggest category of goods purchased in traditional retail stores is food.
Food currently makes up 59% of goods sold in physical stores in the CEE, according to Carmen Ravon, head of retail occupiers CEE at CBRE. “Sales of groceries dominated the structure [of online retail] of all CEE countries, and it had the largest share of overall retail sales in Romania, where it represented a staggering 66% of all consumer spending in brick-and-mortar stores,” Ravon said.
When they do turn to e-commerce, Romanians have a purchasing pattern that is slightly different from other countries in the region. They usually buy apparel and footwear, which is the category that had the highest share of online sales in Romania in 2021.
Online purchases of consumer electronics are the second most popular in Romania, but first in all other CEE countries. The third most popular category sold online is food and drinks, followed by homewares and home furnishings, and media products.
While the e-commerce sector occupies a larger market share in the Czech Republic and Poland, it is increasingly becoming more important in Romania as well.