Retail and wholesale survival forecast with social distancing in the Netherlands 2020

Retailers and wholesalers in the Netherlands were optimistic about their survival prospects in a post-coronavirus 1.5-meter-society in 2020. More than a third of retail and wholesale businesses were certain that they would be able to adapt and persist despite social distancing rules, while 39 percent indicated they would probably survive. Almost seven percent of both retail and wholesale business owners said that they would certainly not survive. The coronavirus outbreak changed the retail landscape in the Netherlands drastically.

Retail and wholesale in the era of social distancing

Social distancing was believed to be an essential part of resuming public life in the Netherlands after the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. The government communicated a minimum distance of 1.5 meters, or roughly five feet. As such, the term “1.5-meter-society” was coined by the media to refer to the new landscape in which businesses would need to operate. The general optimism reflected in the present statistic could be explained by the emergency funding provided by the Dutch government for various businesses that were impacted by the coronavirus. This included retail and wholesales businesses, as well as restaurants and cultural institutions. As a result, the number of bankruptcies did not increase yet (as of May 2020).

Earth-shocking effects of the coronavirus on retail

The coronavirus pandemic impacted retailers in the Netherlands in polarizing ways. On the one hand, supermarkets and DIY stores enjoyed an unprecedented spike in sales. As consumers anticipated a lockdown of society, they collectively hoarded food preserves and hygiene products to stock up their “pandemic pantry”. On the other hand, brick-and mortar retailers, wholesalers and businesses in the hospitality sector all suffered from forced closure and the government advice for the public to “stay at home”.

To what extent do you expect your company to survive a 1,5-meter-society in the Netherlands?

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Release date

May 2020



Survey time period

April 24-30, 2020

Number of respondents


Special properties

Business owners

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

*Count includes businesses from other sectors, that were not considered by this statistic.

Original survey question (Dutch): "Er wordt gesproken over een ‘1,5 meter samenleving’. Oftewel een samenleving waar we – op anderhalve meter van elkaar – de maatschappij en economie toch (beperkt) kunnen laten functioneren. In hoeverre verwacht je dat jouw bedrijf kan (blijven) bestaan in een 1,5 meter samenleving?"

Translation: There is talk of a '1.5-meter-society', a society in which public life and the economy can still be somewhat functional while we stay 1.5 meters away from each other. To what extent do you expect your company to survive a 1.5-meter-society?

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