Areas covered in this Report

This report focusses on the five major European economies and their leading food retailers. In total, we estimate that these five countries account for two-thirds of all food retailers’ sales in Europe excluding Russia.

In the European Summary, the scope of the report is widened as we look at the key statistics and the key players from other countries beyond the big 5. However, it is still the major retailers from the big five economies, but especially the UK, France and Germany, that dominate. One still has to go down to number 14 in the rankings to find the first retailer (X5 Retail Group) not domiciled in one of the Big 5. Additional details about smaller countries can be found in Mintel’s European Retail Handbook – September 2020 and in the European Retail Rankings, which will be published at the end of the year.

The focus of this report is supermarkets, but the market size used is for all food retailers. Supermarkets dominate food retailing across Europe taking between 85% and 90% of all food retailers’ sales. Some markets continue to see a reverse in the trend towards ever larger stores, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and consumers opting to shop more locally and from smaller players. The trend to larger supermarkets seems to be coming to an end in the more developed markets, with smaller convenience stores and hard discounters growing and taking market share. In addition, food specialists have seen the previous trend of decline reverse as they have fared a little better.

Key issues covered in this report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the grocery retailing sector.

  • The winners and losers in the grocery retailing sector since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The growth of the online grocery channel and the boost given to it by the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • How people shop for groceries and which retailers they use for main and top-up shops.

  • How behaviours of grocery shoppers have changed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Country coverage

We cover the top five economies in detail in the individual country chapters of this report, and in the Executive Summary – Europe – The Market section we also provide data on up to 33 European economies. More details of retailing in these smaller markets, plus Russia and Turkey, can be found in Mintel’s European Retail Handbook – September 2020. Single country reports on supermarkets are also available for the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Consumer research coverage

Mintel commissioned consumer research in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. We asked 2,000 internet users aged 16+ in the UK and Germany, and 1,000 in each of the other countries about:

  • Their role in shopping for groceries in their household in the last 12 months

  • The retailers used primarily and secondarily for groceries in the last 12 months

  • Responses to a series of attitudinal statements relating to shopping for groceries in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Additionally, the UK and the German reports include further consumer research with deeper insights, for which we asked shoppers about changes in their usual shopping behaviour as a result of the pandemic, their level of satisfaction, as well as particular features/factors considered most important by them when choosing a supermarket or food retailer.

Responses to these surveys reflect the opinion of internet users. While internet usage is high in the UK and Germany, it is less so in the other countries. Eurostat records the following household penetration levels for broadband internet in 2019: UK 96%, Germany 94%, Spain 91%, France 83% and Italy 84%. All saw an increase in broadband penetration over 2018.

Where internet usage is lower, the online population is less representative of the general population. Although Spain and Italy are catching up, this still means that, for example, the proportion of respondents buying online may not so clearly reflect the proportion buying online among the total population. Nevertheless, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of online shopping is rising even in countries like Italy, which are not historically known for having a strong ecommerce channel.

Note that for some survey results we provide netted totals of answers to two or more options. A netted total will often equal less than the sum of the parts being netted, due to overlaps in respondents selecting different options.

Definitions and technical notes

Consumer spending definitions

Our consumer spending figures for food, beverages and tobacco follow the COICOP category definitions. Note that consumer spending figures stated are for retail purchases only, and exclude foodservice spending, such as through bars, hotels and restaurants. Tobacco is the exception.

The COICOP category definitions are set out below.

  • 1.1 Food for in-home consumption.

  • 1.2 Non-alcoholic beverages – includes coffee tea and cocoa; mineral waters, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices.

  • 2.1 Alcoholic beverages – includes spirits, wine, beer – purchased for consumption at home.

  • 2.2 Tobacco products, including purchases through foodservice establishments.

Retail sales

Our sector sales are based on SIC 2007 definitions – the core sector is the grocers – or “non-specialised stores with food, beverages or tobacco predominating”.

  • 47110 Retail sale in non-specialised stores with food, beverages or tobacco predominating.

Food specialists (47200) are the sum of:

  • 47210 Retail sale of fruit and vegetables in specialised stores

  • 47220 Retail sale of meat and meat products in specialised stores

  • 47230 Retail sale of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in specialised stores

  • 47240 Retail sale of bread, cakes, flour confectionery and sugar confectionery in specialised stores

  • 47250 Retail sale of beverages in specialised stores

  • 47260 Retail sale of tobacco products in specialised stores

  • 47290 Other retail sale of food in specialised stores.

Financial definitions

All retailers’ sales figures are quoted excluding VAT (sales tax), unless specifically stated otherwise.

In our European reports, all retail sector sales are quoted excluding VAT, unless specifically stated otherwise. In our UK report, retail sales data includes VAT.

Consumer spending data is quoted including VAT, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Operating profit is trading profit after normal operating costs and depreciation, but before interest, goodwill amortisation and exceptional items.

Pre-tax profit is calculated after all costs, including exceptional items, interest, and non-cash charges such as amortisation, but before tax.

Note that there can be a number of reasons why tables do not sum exactly:

  • Rounding errors

  • Currency conversions if original data for different subsidiaries was in different currencies (companies often provide information in local currencies)

  • VAT (sales tax) – if original data was provided gross (including sales tax), we have extracted VAT at the relevant rates for countries concerned and at the estimated appropriate rates depending on product categories sold

  • Information on all subsidiaries is not always available. As a result in some cases we have an entry for the parent company, and subsidiary information on only one part of the business.


Conversion from local currencies to euros is carried out at the average rate during the year.

Rates against the Euro for Eurozone countries have now been fixed since 1999 and all accounts in Eurozone countries are now published in euros.

Sales tax rates

All European countries levy sales tax using the value-added method.

Figure 1: VAT rates around Europe, 2015-20
Jan-15 Jan-16 Jan-17 Jan-18 Jan-19 Jan-20
% % % % % %
Austria 20 20 20 20 20 20
Belgium 21 21 21 21 21 21
Bulgaria 20 20 20 20 20 20
Czechia 21 21 21 21 21 21
Denmark 25 25 25 25 25 25
Estonia 20 20 20 20 20 20
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CAGR Compound Annual Growth Rate
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CPI Consumer Price Index
e Mintel Estimate
EDLP Everyday Low Prices
f Forecast
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GM General Merchandise (such as electrical goods and homewares)
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