The Retail & Consumer Sector

The retail & consumer industry...

We're all stakeholders in the consumer industry if you think about it... we're all consumers!! 

The consumer industry sells products and services directly to the consumer - different from manufacturing, supplying and distributing. The consumer industry is focused on the direct relationship between seller and customer ('consumer'). A category of the consumer industry is retail. Retail makes up a third of consumer spending (see:

In 2019, the total value of UK retail sales was £394 billion and the number of persons employed in the UK in the retail industry was around 2.9 million (stats from 

As a consumer, your rights when buying goods and services are protected and you can get help if you're treated unfairly or when things go wrong such as problems with credit and store cards, faulty goods, counterfeit goods, poor service, contracts, builders and rogue traders. 

What do the lawyers do?!

Lawyers that specialise in the retail and consumer industry can either act on behalf of the consumer or on behalf of the business that sells to the consumer. 

Typical legal issues that can arise in the retail and consumer industry include: 

  • mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances between organisations 

  • competition law issues 

  • dealing with economic regulations

  • intellectual property rights and protection

  • franchising and licensing arrangements 

  • consumer finance such as credit sale outsourcing, store-cards and credit cards

  • information technology procurement 

  • e-commerce 

  • financing arrangements (businesses always need money)

  • tax and share schemes (it's common to offer employee incentives such as shares in the company) 

  • employment and pensions issues (this will be relevant in any industry that employs people) 

  • environmental issues during the product lifecycle (with the increasing emphasis on going and staying green, businesses will have a particular interest in ensuring they are complying with environmental law) 

  • dispute resolution in the context of commercial relationships

  • real estate - when a retail or consumer business wishes to buy or sell land/property it owns

There are both contentious and non-contentious elements to the work of lawyers that practice in the retail and consumer sector so it will very much depend on the specific discipline that you specialise in (see 'what do lawyers do' portal for the variety of disciplines available). 


Accordingly, practice areas that can fall within this sector include:

  • Corporate

  • Finance 

  • Commercial and Intellectual Property 

  • Regulatory and Compliance 

  • Insurance 

  • Tax

  • Employment

  • Real Estate

Example legal cases

Clifford Chance advised Booker Group plc on a £3.7 billion merger with Tesco plc. 

Taylor Wessing advised Vinted, Europe's largest online international C2C marketplace dedicated to second-hand fashion, on its EUR 128 million Series E round financing which values the company at over EUR 1 billion. 

Gateley Legal advised Gymshark on its strategic partnership with General Atlantic which valued the Gymshark business at over £1 billion. 

Law firms to consider...