According to the latest data of the Central Statistical Office (GUS), in 2017 there were 75.2 thousand general grocery stores in Poland. This means that in 2017 alone 5.6 thousand outlets were closed, and in the previous 10 years – over 30 thousand. Forecasts for 2018 indicate further decreases. According to PMR data, the vast majority of stores on the Polish market are small, traditional stores – in 2017 there were as many as 52.2 thousand of them, and it is these stores that are mainly being closed down. Some of them, after modernizations, supply the 13.2 thousand outlets with convenience channel, but most of them are disappearing from the market for good. If the current dynamics were maintained, in 15 years only large-format stores (hypermarkets, supermarkets, discounts) and convenience stores would remain on the Polish market. However, such a scenario seems unlikely, so the question arises – when will the downward trend be stopped and at what level will the number of shops in Poland stabilize?
First of all, you should pay attention to which shops are and will be closed. Currently, it is mainly small shops located in rural areas, where emigration of residents to cities and abroad has resulted in a decrease in the number of potential customers. In addition, the challenge for small shops is the expansion of discount stores and proximity supermarkets to the municipality – some customers calculate that it is more profitable for them to get a few kilometers to such a store and do complex shopping in it, others have such shops on the way from work in a larger village. In the future we should also expect a reduction in the number of shops in cities – at present there are simply too many of them, it often happens that there are at least a few outlets in one street, often even one chain. A challenge is also the development of shops at petrol stations, additionally supported by a ban on Sunday trading. Their offer is getting wider and wider, more and more often they appear. also fresh articles. (It is worth noting that marinas are not classified by the Central Statistical Office (GUS) as a category of general grocery stores. On the other hand, other formats seem to come to the wall – the number of hypermarkets is likely to stop at about 500, the number of discount openings remains at the level of over 100 stores per year, but with a decreasing trend, and supermarkets are growing thanks to the expansion of proximity stores (Dino, Stokrotka, Delikatesy Centrum, Polomarket), on the other hand, large supermarket chains are experiencing problems (sanitation proceedings in the Piotr i Paweł chain, decrease in the number of Tesco and Intermarche supermarches).
Trying to answer the question contained in the title it is worth looking at Western markets. In 2016, 122.3 thousand grocery stores operated in neighbouring Germany, more than twice as big in terms of population (data after DeStatis). In the 48-million-strong Spain in 2014 there were 47,000 shops, twice less than 30 years earlier (data after Nielsen). On the one hand, in both cases we are talking about already strongly consolidated markets, so they can be treated as a reference point for the Polish market. On the other hand, both countries are much more urbanized than Poland – the share of urban population reaches 80% in their case, compared to 60% for Poland. Moreover, the Polish market is distinguished by the presence of strong wholesalers supporting the owners of small grocery stores, i.e. Eurocash, Makro or GK Specjał. Therefore, it seems that in Poland there is room for a higher number of shops than it would appear from a simple comparison of the number of shops per million inhabitants. To sum up, it may be said that the moment the decrease in the number of shops is near – it will take place between 2025 and 2030, and the number of all-food shops will stabilize at the level of 60-65 thousand. After this period, the number of shops will stabilize at the level of 60-65 thousand. After this period the decline in the number of shops will slow down considerably and will be correlated primarily with the dynamics of population in particular regions.