Serbia flag Serbia: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Serbia

Evolution of the Sector
According to Euromonitor, retail turnover in the Serbian market is approximately EUR 5.5 billion (USD 5.7 billion) a year, which represents a rather small market. Retail chains in Serbia have played a large role in the restructuring of the retail segment in recent years as government retail operations were privatized and later acquired by larger foreign companies. This led to the establishment of several large retailers in Serbia and allegations of monopolistic behavior. Retail trade turnover started to decrease since 2012 and this trend continued also in 2016. According to the Serbian Ministry of Trade, due to the lack of competition of big retail chains, retail margins in Serbia are almost ten times higher than in other countries in the Balkan region. As a result, Serbia has very high prices for food and other consumer products. This is mainly due to very limited competition in the Serbian retail market.

There are a number of foreign retail chains in the Serbian market, primarily regional players, and also some international players such as Delhaize. Foreign retail chains hold over 80 percent of the total retail market. The Serbian retail market is mostly divided between Belgium owned Delhaize (owner of retail chains Maxi and Tempo) and Croatian Agrocor (owner of retail chains Idea, Roda and Mercator). Other international retail chains in Serbia include German Metro and Greek Super Vero. In 2017, the German Lidl opened 15 retail stores. The following domestic retail chains represent only some 20 percent of the Serbian market: Dis, Univerexport and Gomex.
Market share
There are a number of foreign, both regional and international, mass retailers in the Serbian market. Foreign mass retailers hold two-thirds of the total retail market and shopping centres have become popular in Serbia. Nevertheless, the bulk of purchases are concentrated on fresh produce and in small amounts. The main places of purchase are the markets and convenience stores.
Small local shops make up a large proportion of the distribution sector. The food sector includes 20,000 to 30,000 points of sale. Prices are often lower than those of supermarkets. Open street markets are also very numerous across the country.
The main supermarket chains are:

Regarding non-food retail, it should be noted that shopping centres are still few. A significant development is expected in the upcoming years, along with the boom of hypermarkets. The ready-to-wear and accessories sectors are currently the most represented, but retail of leisure, beauty products and, especially, home and DIY products is expected to grow.

Retail Sector Organisations
Serbian Association of Managers
Serbian Chamber of Commerce
Foreign Investor Council of Serbia
Serbian Ministry of Economy

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Latest Update: May 2024