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The end of an era?: the crisis drives the closure of 'Chinese' supermarkets


In recent months, 200 stores have closed. The owners migrate to the interior and to other countries in the region.

Independent supermarkets -among them those of Asian origin- is

the format hardest hit by the economic crisis


Its expansion marked the beginning of an era within mass consumption, but today it is the channel most affected by

the impact of Fair Prices

(which is concentrated in large supermarkets and wholesalers),

the drop in sales, high inflation and the rise in prices. fixed costs.

Such a combination encourages many owners

to migrate from the AMBA area to the interior and to countries in the region, such as Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador

, "where there are more opportunities," explains Yolanda Durán, head of CEDEAPSA, the main chamber which brings together "Chinese" self-services.

In the sector, they estimate that some 200 stores have lowered their blinds so far this year, but they clarify that the trend began in the pandemic, with

the increasing loss of customers


the difficulties in stocking up on merchandise at competitive prices


"Sales in supermarkets

have been showing strong falls since 2019

, and while in supermarkets and the traditional channel (stores) they register a recovery," says Maximiliano Narducci, from Nielsen.

In that channel, according to the latest report from the consulting firm Scanntech, the consumption of basic products (food, beverages, toiletries and cleaning) contracted 8.8% in February, and they have

accumulated 12 months of consecutive declines.

Durán clarifies that, indeed, many stores in the Capital and GBA closed because "they are relocating inland, mainly in neighboring cities where we are doing very well."

The directive points out that many owners "

are observing opportunities

" and place their investments on the other side of the border, where they find

more stable economies and much lower inflation


"We are interested in places where it can grow again," he proclaims.

A Nielsen study corroborates the bad moment of Chinese supermarkets.

"In 2022, the number of businesses (linked to mass consumption) increased 4% compared to the previous year and

today they total 286,300 mouths

," they underline.

Almost all formats registered increases: stores (7%), supermarkets (1%), perfumeries (14%), kiosks and dragstores (1%) and pharmacies (7%).

The other side is self-service, which

fell 1% in 2022 but accumulates a contraction of 5% compared to 2019.

Chinese supermarkets reached their peak in 2014. It is estimated that that year they had 13,000 points of sale, but since then they began to decline.

The change in trend coincides with the arrival of Precios Cuidados, which was concentrated in hypermarkets and supermarkets.

Rebranded numerous times,

the show brought traffic to the biggest networks

, whose share of sales jumped from 34% to 38.5%,

the highest level in the last 10 years


In this regard, Durán emphasizes that supermarkets are currently

at a clear disadvantage to compete due to the price difference


Especially now that the big chains are expanding their local stores (such as Carrefour Express and Día), "and are settling in the same block as our stores with the benefit of Fair Prices", he laments.

In any case, Nielsen insists, supermarkets and stores recovered sales in the post-pandemic, "managing to exceed 2019 levels."

As a counterpart, "self-services continue their downward trend, reaching their lowest per capita consumption level since 2010 in 2022," they add.

There is another aspect to consider: the consultancy registers drops in consumption in almost all categories and business formats, "but food and beverages grew in all, except self-service," explains Narducci.

look too

Supermarkets and local stores: consumption accumulates 12 months of fall

Source: clarin

All business articles on 2023-03-27

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