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Polish stores finished 2023 with a slight loss, with hypermarkets taking the biggest hit

COMMERCEPolish stores finished 2023 with a slight loss, with hypermarkets taking the biggest hit

An analysis of consumer behavior in over 37 thousand grocery and industrial shops has shown that a nearly imperceptible downturn in footfall occurred in 2023. A further decrease in customer numbers was observed, however, the number of visits decreased across nearly every observed format, with hypermarkets experiencing the most significant downturn of 8.1%. Only discounters saw a small growth of 1.2%. However, all segments, without exception, lost visitors. Hypermarkets were hit the worst, with a 3.4% decrease. On the other hand, the most visits were generated by convenience stores and discounters. It was also estimated that in the previous year, the average customer went shopping every 2-3 days, spending approximately fifteen minutes in the store. This was shown in a study by and UCE RESEARCH.

The results of a cyclical study carried out by the technology firm and the analytical research platform UCE RESEARCH show that last year, compared to 2022, there was a minimal decline in footfall in grocery and industrial stores in Poland. This affected discounters, supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience stores. Overall, there were fewer lost customers (-1%) than visits.

— We can attribute this situation to the growing popularity of catering services, as well as delivery services for home shopping. This is making a certain part of the population shop significantly less frequently, or even completely quit visiting stores in favor of online shopping. This slight downward trend should continue this year due to these factors – states Mateusz Nowak, one of the study’s co-authors from

It should also be added that the dynamics of visitor numbers and customers changed during the year. — In the first quarters, we saw an increase in foot traffic, and only from the holiday period did we start to see decreases, both in the numbers of visits and customers. So, one may suspect that in 2024, at least at the beginning, there will be a noticeable declining trend. However, much depends on the economic climate, the level of inflation, and the popularity of catering services and food delivery – explains Dr. Nikodem Sarna, the second co-author of the research from the tech company

The analysis has also shown that customer flow has nearly decreased across all analyzed formats, that is, in supermarkets by 1.4%, in convenience stores by 3.2%, and even in hypermarkets by as much as 8.1%. The exception was discount shops, which noted a slight increase of 1.2%. According to Mateusz Nowak, these results could be an effect of consumers becoming accustomed to shopping close to their homes, where convenience stores and discounters dominate.

— The results could also be due to customers becoming more sensitive to food product prices. Discounters, which by definition offer cheap shopping, could have been more resistant to downturns and maybe even took some traffic away from other types of stores – comments Dr. Nikodem Sarna.

As analysts from UCE RESEARCH report, all formats lost customers, with hypermarkets losing the most – 3.4%, followed by supermarkets with a decrease of 1.7%. Convenience chains and discounters each lost the same amount, i.e., 1.2% of visitors. — Dips across all formats could be a result of fewer people from one household going shopping and delivery services. Hypermarkets came off worst in this regard due to their limited availability – emphasizes Mateusz Nowak.

The differences between the average number of visits per shopper and the average visit duration between 2022 and 2023 remain negligible. — The average customer goes shopping every 2-3 days and spends an average of 15 minutes there. These values should also be maintained in 2024 – the research authors confirm.

In the case of the average number of visits broken down by shop type, the differences remain less than 0.5%, i.e., they practically remained unchanged. — Convenience stores and discounters generate the largest number of visits. This is due to the largest number of these formats and their distribution in the most densely populated areas of the country – the researchers analyze.

Moreover, the analysis shows that the duration of individual purchases in 2023 remained at a very similar level to the year before (-0.6% YoY for the entire market). The same applies to the average total time spent in stores (-1.4% YoY). — These results reflect a certain consistency and stability in the shopping habits of Poles. Therefore, similar values of the above indicators can be expected this year. However, changes this powerful shouldn’t significantly impact the industry’s profits – asserts Mateusz Nowak.

In individual formats, we can also notice small decreases in both of the aforementioned indicators, i.e. the duration of individual purchases and average total result. The exception are discount stores, which noted two equal rises – 0.3% YoY. The remaining segments are in the red, with hypermarkets and supermarkets getting the worst of it – respectively 1.9% YoY and 1.4% YoY. — These differences may be caused by a partial shift to shopping at discounters at the expense of supermarkets and hypermarkets. Due to persistently high inflation, people have mainly been buying essential products and forgoing less important ones, available in larger stores – explains Dr. Sarna.

Looking at the results from last year, Mateusz Nowak predicts that after a relatively weak Q4 of 2023, the Polish grocery store sector may continue to experience slight decreases in customer numbers or footfall in the short term. In the longer term, however, this situation should stabilize. Ultimately, this year’s indicators will be quite similar to last year’s.

— Much also depends on how the chains recording the largest decreases will respond to these trends. Perhaps the survey results will encourage them to rearrange their offers or modify how they communicate about them. No drastic changes are expected right now – summarizes Dr. Nikodem Sarna.

Research Method Description

The study was conducted by the technology company and the analytical research platform UCE RESEARCH based on data from all four quarters in 2023 in comparison to all of 2022, excluding holidays and non-trading Sundays. The analysis includes the behaviors of consumers visiting discount grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience chains.

The sample size was over 331 thousand consumers. The entrance of a researched person into a geofence was recorded as a shopper’s visit when the stay in the store lasted at least 2 minutes and no longer than 2 hours, and in the case of a convenience format – a minimum of 30 seconds and no longer than 30 minutes. The traffic in over 37 thousand facilities, whose locations were obtained from the websites of retail chains and from Google Maps, was examined.

The data was collected through a network of mobile apps using proprietary technology based on geofencing, a method of identifying entries and exits from designated zones, using the location services of mobile devices. The solution allows passive data collection and boasts high user localization accuracy (accuracy from 2 to 20 meters depends on the method of determining the position by the mobile device). This technology ensures full control over location accuracy, and the radius of each geofence is adapted to the size of individual buildings. In addition, the user’s dwell time in a given location is also known, which provides an additional level of protection against counting nearby pedestrian traffic or employee traffic at the investigated points.

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