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Research: Edeka, Lidl, Aldi or Rewe? Which discounter and supermarket is really ahead in Germany

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The market leadership in stationary food retailing has been fiercely contested for years. A current ranking by the EHI Retail Institute shows the leading top 10 stationary food retailers and which discounter or supermarket is the most successful in terms of net sales and number of branches. Edeka is still in first place. What is new, however, is that Lidl has now overtaken Rewe and has increased the gap to rival Aldi.

The food industry is considered one of the most competitive industries in German retail. Discounters, supermarkets, hypermarkets and small merchants have always struggled for customers, locations and market shares. Current data from the EHI Retail Institute in Cologne now shows who is leading the fight. In the study “Retail 2021”, the retail researchers analyzed the industry in detail and, among other things, created a ranking of the leading top 10 stationary food retailers. This shows which discounter or supermarket is the most successful in terms of net sales and number of stores. At the same time, almost all German grocery retailers benefited from the Corona period. Because they were allowed to keep their shops open even during the lockdowns.

In 2020, the grocery trade generated the lion's share of the total turnover of the top 1,000 stationary sales lines of all retailers with well over 60 percent. “However, the growth in food retailing varies depending on the format and leads to shifts in the market shares of discounters and supermarkets,” says Marco Atzberger, commenting on the EHI analysis “Over-the-counter retailing 2021”. According to the study, the discounters in particular benefited. Compared to the EHI data from the previous year, Lidl has now even overtaken Rewe and increased the gap to the discounter competitor Aldi Süd. The largest discounter in Germany, Lidl, is, together with Kaufland, part of the Schwarz group of companies based in Neckarsulm. In 2020, the company generated an estimated net turnover of 21.6 billion euros (US$ 25.3 billion) in Germany with 3,202 stores. The discounters also accounted for the largest share of sales: 42.2 percent of total food retail sales are currently accounted for by inexpensive providers, followed by the supermarket concepts Rewes or Edekas.

However, the hypermarkets also benefited in 2020 from the trend towards “one-stop shopping” during the two lockdowns, when consumers preferred to shop in one place but bought everything there. However, the growth in sales was not as great as that of the supermarkets. This is often due to the poor accessibility of the markets and the rigid structures, write the authors of the study. It is important to mention: In the data, many branches are still assigned to the retailer Real. After the chain was sold to the investor SCP, the stores are now being sold piece by piece to Kaufland, Edeka, Rewe and Globus. That shifts the market shares, especially in the sub-category hypermarkets, increasingly to Kaufland (Schwarz) and market leader Edeka.

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