Morocco’s retail sector’s growth reflects population’s increasing wealth

Originally commissioned April 2015

Moroccans’ lifestyles, along with their shopping trends, have been changing in recent years. A new generation of malls has enjoyed great success. In 2014, the country’s largest malls welcomed millions of visitors, Morocco Mall received 17 million, Al Mazar 5 million and le Carré Eden 3 million. These spaces have attracted people from all socio-professional backgrounds.

The North African market for large shopping complexes is still relatively untouched and has drawn increasing interest from investors. Tangier’s recently established free trade zone has seen strong investor uptake, whilst Casablanca has leveraged its chic reputation to position itself as the premier shopping destination in North Africa. The Carrefour Group recently invested $80m into the Moroccan market with its Label’Vie franchise. Another actor driving the sector is the Aksal Group, which has been bringing several high-end brands to the country since 2004. Monoprix Tunisia is set to open 15 shops in the country. In addition, a large Moroccan chain, Marjane, is now expanding abroad, intending to open branches in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Gabon, Mali and Tunisia. Moroccan companies across the board are increasingly looking to Sub-Saharan Africa to expand, reflecting the health of the country’s retail sector.

The retail sector remains however characterized by local souks, or markets, and the informal sector still dominates the market, as it traditionally has done. Moreover, poor infrastructure in rural areas, disproportionately high land prices, are obstacles to modernization of the retail sector. With 1,151 souks dotted across the country, these are still the places that the majority of Moroccans shop. Between 2009 and 2012, the government introduced a fund, Rawaj VISION 2020, which provided incentive to retailers to modernize and for itinerant traders to settle. A growing middle class, now 30% of the population, and strong economic growth have driven domestic consumption, benefiting the retail sector, now representing 12.8% of the country’s economy, and 13% of the workforce.

 

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