Never have Spaniards spent so much in the shopping basket: 105,000 million euros in 2022, 9.1% more than the previous year, a record, according to the consulting firm NielsenIQ. The increase is due to “unprecedented inflation” that has triggered a 9.9% price of the set of basic goods for daily use (food, beverages, drugstores and perfumes), the highest rise in 20 years. Demand is holding up better than expected and the total volume of sales holds up with a “slight” average decrease of 0.7% despite the 2.5% drop in the acquisition of fresh products. Mercadona, Carrefour and Lidl are the three supermarket chains that have gained the most market share.
The increases in food prices, which reached 15.9% per year in the December CPI due to the increase in energy costs and raw materials, have caused changes in consumer behavior since the start of the escalation, which began to mid-2021 and accelerated with the war in Ukraine in February 2022. They go to the supermarket more frequently and take fewer products to control spending, which exceeds 100 billion for the first time. Almost half of what they buy (46%, compared to 42% in 2020) corresponds to own brands of supermarkets and hypermarkets, according to the report Consumer Trends 2022 presented this Thursday by NielsenIQ.
“We are in a complex environment that is difficult to explain,” warned the firm’s general manager for southern Europe, Patricia Daimiel. The fact that there is a record of spending in the shopping cart does not automatically mean that companies are making more money. We will have to wait for the publication of the annual results in the coming weeks. The NielsenIQ study covers the consumer goods sector, which includes supermarkets, hypermarkets, traditional stores, specialists and service stations.
The increase in demand for distributor brands has boosted the chains with a significant offer in this type of product, according to the firm’s experts, who consider that it is a temporary situation. The three leading market operators are the ones that gain the most share: Mercadona stands at 27.4% (five tenths more than in 2021), Carrefour at 7.6% (four tenths more) and Lidl at 6.1 % (two tenths more). The remaining 60% is distributed mainly among five more chains and the regional supermarkets integrated in Ifa and Euromadi.
NielsenIQ experts consider that this distribution highlights “the enormous competitiveness” of the sector in Spain. Regarding the statements by the Minister of Social Rights and General Secretary of Podemos, Ione Belarra, accusing the supermarkets of benefiting from the rise in prices and the president of Mercadona, Juan Roig, of being a “ruthless capitalist”, Daimiel has insisted in which “the rises are clearly due to inflation, which is affecting the world economy, not only the Spanish one, and companies are transferring it”. “Our market is highly competitive; if, even so, a consumer believes that his supermarket is taking advantage of the price increase, he can go across the street and find more options, ”she has advised.
There are more and more cheap options. Fewer products are bought but more expensive. In addition, promotions, which are a decisive factor for many customers, fell by half a point last year, to 16.2% of products. The increase in the price of the shopping basket has also translated into a decrease in the demand for fresh products, which are more expensive than the average for the basket, 10.3% in 2022. The most affected food has been fish , whose sales volume has fallen by 9.1%, followed by fruit with a decline of 5.5%, vegetables with 3% and meat with 0.9%.
The data show that in Spain it is difficult to do without bread, whose consumption grew by 6.2% despite the fact that the price rose by 9.4%. Similar to what happens with eggs, which became more expensive by 26.6%, but saw their demand grow by 2.5%. Packaged products gained ground as an alternative, despite their price also growing considerably, 10%, especially canned and processed foods. It must be taken into account, in any case, that the shopping basket is usually less affected by large variations in the volume of consumption, given that they are essential products that households do not stop buying suddenly, just as they do stop buying clothes, or change the TV or the car.
The channel onlinewhich rose significantly during the pandemic, is going down a bit: it accounts for only 2.5% of sales, one tenth less than in 2021, partly because the increase in purchase frequency is usually more linked to face-to-face shopping, which is recovering strongly, with more openings.
Similar trend in Europe
Consumer behavior in Spain is similar to that of the rest of Europe. The frequency of purchase has increased by 6% in Spain, 10.8% in Portugal, 6.5% in the United Kingdom and 4.7% in France, while the items in each store have fallen in all of them. basket between 5% and 9%.
The own brand has also grown in most countries. Switzerland is the market in which they have the greatest weight in the shopping basket (52%), followed by Spain (46%), the Netherlands (45%), the United Kingdom (43%), Germany (40%) , Portugal (39%) and Belgium (38%).
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