Norway flag Norway: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Norway

Evolution of the Sector
Even though Norway’s consumer market is small by European standards it is attractive to foreign suppliers. Retail sales in real terms grew by 2% in 2019, to a total of $70 billion. In 2019, food retail sales amounted to $33.2 billion.
According to Statistics Norway, there has been an increase by 1.2% in retail sales (seasonally-adjusted volume index) from September to October 2020. This decline is clearly a consequence of the COVID19 pandemic.

The retail market for groceries is also characterised by a high degree of vertical integration, with wholesaling and retailing operations typically owned by the same company. When combined with the homogeneity of Norway’s grocery retail sector, and the preference for known products, this has made it extremely hard for foreign companies to enter the market without local representation.

Norwegian retail trade is focused around main commercial centres, such as Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. Mergers or close collaborations between two or more companies have driven the structural change over the past few years, mostly in the grocery sector. Retailers aim to enlarge their operations in order to gain more negotiating power at the expense of producers and wholesalers. Because of the small domestic market, Norwegian retailers are small compared even with other Scandinavian countries, and are not very active internationally.

Price levels in Norway are infamously high: groceries cost 50% more than the EU average. Prices of alcohol and tobacco are even higher.

Market share
The Norwegian distribution system is quite organised and consolidated. It is characterised by a small number of intermediaries, sensible margins, a diversity of trends and dynamic professional syndicates. Distribution chains dominate the market, and some chains have strengthened their positions by taking on the role of wholesaler as well, such as NorgesGruppen.

The principal Norwegian stores are:

  • In 2018 (latest data available), Norgesgruppen was the leading grocery retailer in Norway, reaching a market share of roughly 43.2 percent, based on sales.
  • Coop with 29.3% market share,
  • Rema with 23.7% market share,
  • Bunnpris with 3.8% market share.

Shopping centres have also had great success, with turnover steadily increasing and expected to continue in four principal zones: Oslo, Akershus, Østfold and Vestfold.

Retail Sector Organisations
The Enterprise Federation of Norway (formerly the Federation of Norwegian Commercial and Service Enterprises)

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Latest Update: June 2022

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