Convenience keeps supermarkets on top in CEE

Related tags Cent Supermarket Hypermarket European union

Supermarkets remain the most favoured type of the store in the CEE
region, despite the large number of western players entering the
region with hypermarket or discount formats. But the popularity of
supermarkets is built mainly on their convenient locations,
suggesting that other formats could start to win greater market
share by focusing on elements such as price, Chris Jones

A recent report from market analysts GfK & INCOMA Research shows that 23 million people in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev prefer the supermarket format above all others, but also reveals that broader shopping preferences differ greatly from country-to-country.

In the emerging markets of Romania or Serbia and Montenegro, small stores still dominate, while supermarkets are the most common type of store in Slovakia and in the urban areas of Kiev and Moscow. Polish shoppers, meanwhile, shop widely at hypermarkets, discount stores and small counter shops.

Hypermarkets, however, are the big winners in the two most developed retail markets, the Czech Republic and Hungary, where they account for 35 and 29 per cent of shoppers respectively.

Discount chains, on the other hand, are most popular in St. Petersburg (56 per cent), Moscow (27 per cent), Poland (24 per cent), the Czech Republic (22 per cent) and Hungary (20 per cent).

According to Gfk & INCOMA, it is the sheer range of products, coupled with low prices and a pleasant shopping environment that hypermarket customers appreciate the most, while discount stores not only offer low prices but are also considered to be more conveniently located than hypermarkets.

However, supermarkets' enduring popularity is based more than anything else on their proximity to consumers' home or workplace - they are not considered to be particularly low cost, or offer the biggest range of products, and other store formats which offer both convenient locations and these other attractions are expected to become increasingly popular.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given their rapid expansion there in recent years, western chains dominate the list of the most popular chains in central and eastern Europe. In the Czech Republic, it is Germany's Kaufland (the discount hypermarket chain operated by the Schwarz Group) which is the most popular, accounting for 15 per cent of shoppers.

In Hungary, it is Tesco hypermarkets that are the most popular (18 per cent) while in Poland it is the Biedronka discount chain owned by Jeronimo Martins (15 per cent). German cash & carry chain Metro is number one in Romania (6 per cent).

However, the rest of the CEE market is dominated by local players: supermarkets C Market in Serbia and Montenegro (13 per cent), Jednota co-operatives in Slovakia (31 per cent) and supermarket chain Furshet in Ukraine/Kiev (24 per cent).

The report also throws some light on where local and international retailers are likely to focus in the future. Some markets are particularly saturated - in St Petersburg, for example, the top ten retailers account for 86 per cent of all preferences - while others are still underdeveloped - Romania and Serbia and Montenegro in particular.

The St Petersburg market is all the more saturated given that many of the biggest stores are condensed into a relatively small area: just 33 per cent of shoppers there take their car, which means that the kind of out-of-town development favoured by hypermarket groups are rare. In contrast, 60 per cent of Czech households use their car for shopping on a regular basis, which has led to a proportionately large number of out-of-town outlets there.

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