Research Outline

Retail Structures MENA


To gather information about retail structures and markets in selected MENA countries.

Early Findings


  • Tunisia's retail market is similar to Algeria's and other North African countries, with the domination of small shops.
  • International supermarket chains and franchises have been developing over the last decade thanks to the emergence of modern distribution channels.
  • Following the 2011 revolution and the destruction of supermarkets and retail spaces, there has been a recovery with the development of new retail spaces, boosted by new consumption patterns and the influx of high-income Libyan migrants.
  • Modern distribution in Tunisia represents 22% of total retail turnover, compared to 23% for European countries.
  • E-commerce has been developing in the last few years but remains minor.
  • The retail network is composed of around 250,000 small shops, ranging between 20 and 50 sq meters.
  • Urban areas have outdoor markets selling perishable goods and mostly food products.
  • Modern malls have started to appear since a 2009 legislation was passed.


  • The retail industry in Kuwait is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% over the next few years, being the second fastest-growing retail market in the Gulf.
  • Given that 70% of Kuwaiti residents are expatriates, they are responsible for the majority of sales and employment in the local retail market.
  • Retail in Kuwait is split between large regional shopping centers and popular community centers.
  • The average occupancy of mall space is very high in Kuwait, estimated at 93%.


  • Egypt's retail market is still traditional and relies on trade in physical locations, with some specific "golden" districts account for most of the sales.
  • E-commerce in Egypt represents only 0.4% of total retail sales but is growing fast.
  • Products sold online tend to be cheaper as the overheads cost less.
  • International retailers that entered the Egyptian market recently struggled with inflation and a restriction in imports, which limits the frequency of the shipments.
  • However, it remains the largest retail market in the Middle East.


  • In Bahrain, 90% of leasable retail space is located in Grade A, which host international upscale retailers and franchised food outlets, as well as entertainment options, and Grade B malls.
  • Grade B malls include supermarkets or department stores but have a limited number of international brands.
  • It is expected that Grade A malls will grow four times faster than Grade B malls, given the taste of locals for upscale shopping options.
  • The top ten malls in Bahrain include two large ones, five medium, and three small retail outlets, and attract 51 million visitors/year.


  • The retail network in Algeria is dominated by informal markets.
  • The presence of large informal wholesalers who supply formal and informal retailers alike is making the problem hard to solve for the government.
  • The retail sector in Algeria is highly disorganized, with competition from the informal market, a high level of fragmentation and a high cost of logistics.
  • Recently, some international retail chains have been opening in malls but small neighborhood stores still represent the majority of the retail sector.
  • However, as the middle-class grows, modern retail is increasing, but still only represents around 3% of the total turnover.
  • The first modern shopping mall in Algeria was only inaugurated in the capital in 2010, with a $70 million investment from a Joint Venture made of Valartis Group and Jelmoli.
  • This mall has 45,000 sq meters of leasable area and attracts millions of visitors.
  • In Algeria, a foreign company is required by law to hold a minority share in any Joint Venture it enters.
  • Foreign companies are also submitted to high import duties, a lack of modern leasable space and competition from the informal market.
  • Some foreign brands have settled in Algeria such as Mango, Aldo, Zara, Benetton, and Alain Afflelou.
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Prepared By
Tarik T.
619 assignments | 4.9