Central Europe: hypermarkets poised for rapid growth
of the grocery retail market in central and eastern Europe in the
years following European Union accession, according to a recent
study of shopping habits in the region.
As we reported earlier in the week, shoppers in central and eastern Europe are still more likely to use their local shop than a larger hypermarket outlet to buy their groceries, but this is as much to do with the lack of larger stores in many parts of the country than a nostalgic affection for traditional stores.
Like their counterparts in the rest of the EU, shoppers in the east want a combination of quality and freshness, at the most competitive prices possible, and this latter factor has also driven the rapid expansion of the discount format across the region.
And it is these two store formats which are likely to show the most rapid growth as incomes rise and customs change post EU accession, according to a recent report from market analysts Incoma Research and GfK.
In fact, the Shopping Monitor CEE report shows that hypermarkets are already in a strong position in many markets in the region. Some 37 per cent of households in the Czech Republic already shop in hypermarkets, 29 per cent in Hungary, 15 per cent in Poland and 14 per cent in Slovakia.
Discounters are also becoming more popular - 24 per cent of Polish shoppers choose the low-price format, compared to 21 per cent in Hungary, 19 per cent in the Czech Republic and 15 per cent in Russia, although this is almost entirely limited to the Moscow region.
Only in Romania and Ukraine are smaller convenience stores or supermarkets the most popular format, with a very low penetration (so far) of western retailers.
This is certainly not the case elsewhere in the region, with most of the leading players owned or operated by some of Europe's biggest retail names. In the Czech republic, for example, discount hypermarket operator Kaufland (part of Germany's Schwarz Group) is the most popular store, accounting for 16 per cent of shopping preferences.
In Hungary, Tesco's hypermarkets are the most popular, taking 18 per cent of shoppers, while the Biedronki discount stores top the list in Poland, with 17 per cent of shoppers opting to buy their groceries there. While Metro is the leading chain in Romania, it accounts for only 4 per cent of shoppers, a testament to the highly fragmented market there. In other CEE markets, however, local companies are still the most popular. Jednota co-operatives take the lion's share in Slovakia (37 per cent), while in Ukraine it is the Furshet chain (26 per cent) and in Russia it is Piatyorochka (12 per cent).
Not surprisingly given the growth in western retailers in the region, the penetration of private labels is also increasing. Private labels are already well established in the Czech Republic, according to the report, with 75 per cent of shoppers saying that they bought them on a regular basis, as well as in Hungary (68 per cent) and Slovakia (62 per cent).
The penetration is less marked in Poland, where 46 per cent of shoppers regularly buy private labels, and is still very low in Romania (13 per cent) and Ukraine (11 per cent), mainly because of the lack of western retailers there.