Unorganized and Organized Retail: A Global Comparison

Written by  //  August 22, 2012  //  Posts  //  1 Comment

India unorganized retail (Steve Rosset)

Organized retail or modern retail is usually chain stores, all owned or franchised by a central entity, or a single store that is larger than some cut-off point. The relative uniformity and standardization of retailing is the key attribute of modern retail. The size of each unit can be small so that a chain of convenience stores is modern retail. A single large department store is also modern retail. (ICRIER)

In developed countries, so much of our retail is organized that we rarely hear the term used. Instead, categorizations such as ‘independents’ and ‘mom-and-pop stores’ are more common, and are typically references to what is known globally as unorganized retail.

Although a few years dated, I find this table comparison of unorganized and organized retail to be an interesting illustration of just how diverse retail markets are globally. These figures are by no means static; with every passing year, retailers are becoming increasingly globalized and the percentage of unorganized retail in developing countries is declining.

CountryTotal Retail Sales (USD)Share of Organized Retail (%)Share of Unorganized Retail (%)
USA $2,983,000,000,000 85%15%
Japan $1,182,000,000,000 66%34%
China $785,000,000,000 20%80%
United Kingdom $475,000,000,000 80%20%
France $436,000,000,000 80%20%
Germany $421,000,000,000 80%20%
India $322,000,000,000 4%96%
Brazil $284,000,000,000 36%64%
Russia $276,000,000,000 33%67%
South Korea $201,000,000,000 15%85%
Indonesia $150,000,000,000 30%70%
Poland $120,000,000,000 20%80%
Thailand $68,000,000,000 40%60%
Pakistan $67,000,000,000 1%99%
Argentina $53,000,000,000 40%60%
Philippines $51,000,000,000 35%65%
Malaysia $34,000,000,000 55%45%
Czech Republic $34,000,000,000 30%70%
Vietnam $26,000,000,000 22%78%
Hungary $24,000,000,000 30%70%

Source: Impact of Organized Retailing on the Unorganized Sector
Data from 2006, Planet Retail and Technopak Advisers Pvt. Ltd.

Cover Photo Credit: Steve Rosset Photography

About the Author

David Fitzpatrick

David Fitzpatrick is a registered urban planner and currently manages special projects within the Chief Planner's Office at the City of Toronto. David has a passion for urban retail development, and has consulted on over a hundred projects around the world ranging from downtown revitalization strategies to new super-regional centres. With Reurbanist, David combines his interests in urban planning and land use economics, writing about how the intersection of these two fields can lead to positive outcomes for both people and cities. In addition to his professional work, David is the Chair of SALEA, a charity he founded with a friend in Tanzania to support legal aid in East Africa. LinkedIn Profile

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  • Erik Cornelius

    It would be interesting to see updated numbers, especially for countries that have undergone significant development in the past decade. When I came to Korea in 2005, small independent shops could be found on almost every residential street in Seoul. Now many of these have closed and been replaced by chain stores or bought franchise licenses. You can still find the small stores in some neighborhoods of Seoul and their slightly more common in smaller cities, but more and more of the retail space is being occupied by large local players.