The number of discount supermarkets in Italy has grown by over 60 per cent in the past decade, according to a study by market research company IRI.
The discounters are concentrated mainly in the south of Italy, with 1,277 points-of-sale and with a share of 14.1 per cent.
The market leaders are Eurospin, MD-LD Discount (it became the second biggest group after the acquisition of Lillo from LD Market) and Lidl, which together account for 53.6 per cent of the total channel with 2,225 points-of-sale.
This huge increase in numbers has not translated into a proportional development of the market share at the expense of the rest of the retail sector. The discount supermarket segment grew by just 2.5 percentage points since 2005.
Contributing to this have been a sharp slowdown in sales growth since the summer of 2013, as well as the erosion of the gap of convenience to other channels, as competition has pushed hard both promotions and discounted items.
Traditionally, the discounters have been betting on reasonable prices and a strong presence, with proximity a key value especially today, in a society that continues to age.
In an attempt to boost sales, they are now increasing the assortment (that went from 1,924 to 2,448 references in four years, +27.2 per cent) and even introducing 'premium' brands, looking to penetrate into social classes that before they would not be able to attract.
Over the past year, many have expanded the offer of fresh products, as well as inserting bakery, fruit and vegetables and fish departments.
Lidl, for example, is offering in some stores a selection of take-away fresh fish. Following the example of Lidl’s Deluxe line, MD-LD Discount stores have introduced a new Premium product line, which consists of 30 references divided into different categories (fresh, breakfast, pantry).
© 2015 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.