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 when 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 as well. However, it is still the major retailers from the big five economies, but especially the UK, France and Germany, that dominate. One has to go down to number 14 in the rankings for the first retailer (X5 Retail Group) not domiciled in one of the Big 5. Additional details about smaller countries can be found in the European Retail Handbook – September 2019 and in the European Retail Rankings, which will be published in December 2019.

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 87% and 88% of all food retailers’ sales. Some countries are beginning to see a reverse in the trend towards ever larger stores, and food specialists, though not the markets, are seeing their decline stabilise or even reverse. 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.

Consumer research coverage

Mintel commissioned consumer research in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain for this report. In each country, we have asked 2,000 internet users aged 16+ a series of questions about their grocery shopping.

In every country we asked who was responsible for doing the grocery shopping for the household and where the household shopped for groceries, whether in-store or online. We then asked which retailer they spent most money with and where they also shopped.

Finally we investigated which among ten attributes consumers associate with the available retail formats (eg supermarkets, discounters, convenience stores and specialists).

The research in the UK was more comprehensive. It includes the topics covered in continental Europe, but also looks at the frequency of food shopping, the types of shops used, in-store services used, and the level of satisfaction with key aspects of supermarket operation.

Technical notes

Consumer spending

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 exceptionalities, 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 ruling during the year.

Sales tax rates

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

Figure 1: VAT rates around Europe, 2014-19
01-Jan-14 01-Jan-15 01-Jan-16 01-Jan-17 01-Jan-18 01-Jan-19
% % % % % %
Austria 20 20 20 20 20 20
Belgium 21 21 21 21 21 21
Czechia 21 21 21 21 21 21
Denmark 25 25 25 25 25 25
Finland 24 24 24 24 24 24
France 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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