Looking at sales growth, export expectations, and business confidence the lines of the charts are trending downwards. On the other hand, the number of bankruptcies is increasing. The run-up to 2024 does not make wholesalers optimistic. That has everything to do with the general economic situation. The European economy continues to struggle. According to our Global Economic Outlook 2023–25, there is a high likelihood of a recession lasting well into the summer. There is an increasing chance that wholesalers will have to deal with key customers collapsing. To absorb that blow, taking out trade credit insurance is not an unnecessary luxury.

With their import and export activities, wholesalers are uniquely sensitive to international trading conditions. And these will certainly not be optimal in 2024. Geopolitical uncertainty is only increasing. In addition to the hotbeds of war in Ukraine and Gaza, the many elections looming in Europe and the rest of the world are causing additional uncertainty. Never before have so many elections coincided as in 2024. A lot of attention is being paid to the presidential elections in the US. But there will also be elections in India, China, and Japan. The EU is holding European Parliament elections this year. If we add up all the countries in which elections will be held in 2024, this amounts to almost half of the global GDP. In other words, the impact will be considerable. Given the global far-right politics, international trade is likely to suffer from increasing protectionism (trade measures).

Positive elements for trade are decreasing inflation and the interest rate cut expected to be implemented later in 2024. Consumers may regain some financial leeway, and investments will be fuelled. According to our research department, the policy rate in the Eurozone will be 3.5% at the end of 2024 (end of 2023: 4%).
As a sector, wholesale trade faces numerous challenges, including staff shortages, higher costs, and the urgent need for climate and energy transition. Entrepreneurs will be forced to adjust their strategy. Both large and small players will have to work on sustainability and digitalisation in order to remain relevant.

New technologies and innovations will play a crucial role in improving logistics processes, optimising supply chains, and increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the sector. It not only contributes to streamlining processes, reducing costs, and improving customer satisfaction but also strengthens collaboration and connectivity in the supply chain.

Furthermore, innovations must ensure more sustainability. Businesses that know how to handle this will gain a competitive advantage and be better able to respond to rapidly changing market demand.

With the use of digital inventory management and on-demand warehousing (whether or not linked to a logistics partner or in-house logistics), wholesalers can ensure faster delivery to the professional end customer. Depending on the products, distribution can take place daily via delivery rounds or personalised deliveries – but only if the volume of goods transported justifies this.

The quality of the logistics services provided by each wholesaler is an important differentiating factor even though pure logistics service providers naturally also compete with them.

  • Whether it concerns packaging, loading vehicles, or organising delivery rounds, thanks to technological investments, wholesalers can accelerate these flows and adapt ( in real time ) to the ever-fluctuating demand.
  • By making more intensive and smarter use of Business Intelligence and Big Data, wholesalers can greatly increase the efficiency of business processes.
  • Both upstream and downstream wholesalers are investing in IT management tools for their supply and distribution chains. In this way, they benefit from the traceability of their products and comply with various standards, especially in the field of nutrition.
  • In the context of increasing the digitalisation of activities, wholesaler personnel must have sound digital knowledge. Training is therefore becoming an important theme in this sector.
Wholesalers do not manufacture any products themselves. As a result, the energy consumption of the sector is relatively low. Sustainability and limiting the environmental impact mainly focus on the use of recyclable packaging (cardboard or paper instead of plastic) and optimising transport, which takes place mainly by road. Logistical optimisation therefore forms the core of the economic model of wholesalers and contributes to energy performance.

Wholesale trade is a sector with highly varied occupations and a high labour demand. But like almost all other sectors, wholesale also has difficulty attracting new people. Even if the salary level is an advantage.

For example, it is higher than in retail. The sector suffers mainly from a shortage of delivery drivers, order pickers, and forklift drivers.

Consumer behaviour is constantly evolving, and wholesale companies must be able to adapt to these new trends. The shift to online shopping, sustainability, and ethical consumption are all factors that can influence demand for certain products and services.

Wholesalers are particularly sensitive to cyclical developments. This explains why the number of bankruptcies in the sector is increasing at above-average rates. With higher costs and a persistently weak economy, increasingly more companies are struggling with liquidity and profitability. Higher interest rates and increased wage costs are hitting home.

If important customers go bankrupt, this can also hit the wholesaler hard. Wholesalers who work with public institutions run less risk than those who do business with retailers and SMEs. To prevent businesses from struggling with unpaid invoices, we offer the protection of a trade credit insurance. Entrepreneurs can rest assured that their invoices will be paid.

As in other industries, it is also important in the wholesale sector to know suppliers and customers before entering into a commercial relationship with them. Our teams help wholesalers find out more about their new customers by gathering information to assess their solvency and reliability (creation date, market dynamics, financial documents ...). We support wholesalers in the long term by monitoring the financial health of their customers. This follow-up is essential to avoid late payments or even unpaid bills.

Are your customers creditworthy? Check the creditworthiness of your customers for free! Make use of our free customer check now and get a default risk assessment of three (prospective) customers.

75 results


Apr 19, 2024

Belgians get substantially more money

The average amount Belgians added per year over the past 20 years in financial assets was €2,380. This is according to our report on private financial assets in the nine main EU countries. Read more.


Apr 10, 2024

The risk of payment default increases considerably

Global companies are paying their invoices later and later. On average, the global DSO increased by +3 days, to 59 days by 2023. Want to know more? Read it here.


Mar 26, 2024

What are the forecasts for the automotive industry?

Our Economic Research Centre outlines the outlook for the automotive sector in this report. Read the summary here or download the report.

75 results