Major supermarket chains in Spain strengthen market position during pandemic

by Lorraine Williamson
supermarket chains

MADRID – If there is one sector in Spain that has come out of the pandemic stronglyit has been the major supermarket chains. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020 and the subsequent catering restrictions, Spaniards have been eating at home unusually often.

This has certainly not done the supermarket industry any harm. At the end of 2021, Mercadona, Carrefour, and Lidl will emerge as the three largest supermarket chains in Spain, according to data from market research firm Kantar. 

Mercadona remains the market leader 

With a market share of 25%, Mercadona was the market leader in 2021. A slight loss of market share earlier in the pandemic, this supermarket chain managed to recover last year. In the periods with the strictest restrictions, Mercadona lost customers who then chose to do their shopping on a smaller scale at the neighborhood supermarket. In 2021 Mercadona gained ground in areas of Spain where there were previously fewer branches, such as in the Basque Country. Last year, another six supermarkets were added in this region, two of which opened in December. 

Carrefour, the number two in Spain, will close the most solid year of the past eight years in 2021. This is partly due to the acquisition of 172 Supersol stores at the end of 2020. Carrefour transformed these into Carrefour Express, Market, and Supeco stores, which have strengthened its market position, particularly in Andalucia. 

Lidl expands further in Spain 

The supermarket chain that grew the fastest in Spain in the past year is the number three, Lidl which achieved a record percentage of 6.9% market share. That is 1.2% more than at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. This is based on an ambitious growth plan with an investment of €400 million for the opening of 40 branches and a logistics centre. In total, Spain now has 650 Lidl supermarkets. With an investment of another €1.5 billion, Lidl plans to open another 150 stores in the next two years. 

The supermarket chain Dia, which achieved a market share of 4.9% at the end of November, fared less well. That is 1.2% lower compared to March 2020, before the corona pandemic and even 1.5% lower than in May of that year. At that time, Dia still had a market share of 6.4%. Since the start of the pandemic, Dia has closed more than 300 branches in Spain, which explains the loss in market share at the national level. 

Related post: What are the cheapest supermarkets in Spain?

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