The retail sector plays a decisive role in the development of urban-rural relations. As it is not only a narrower segment of the population that participates in it and it is a good measure of the central role of cities on a market basis. Our study is part of a broader research project covering the North Hungarian region, where we investigate market access opportunities for local producers through short supply chains. As a basis for the primary research of a greater project we conducted secondary research based on the databases of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. In addition to the number of retail stores, we investigated the possible impacts of changes in population and incomes on demand for retail stores and centres in each city and their surrounding rural areas. In terms of the socio-economic sense, the region shows a less favourable picture than the national average, which also manifests itself in the lower number of retail units. However, in the region, significant differences can also be observed in the settlement hierarchy and spatial characteristics. There is some duality in the fact that the population per unit of trade is relatively high, but at the same time, the number of units in the examined chain stores is relatively smaller in the region.