Grocery Market Share Trends


The federal government is finally publishing data from the 2007 Census of Retail Trade. When these findings are compared with the findings from earlier censuses, we get the most accurate and comprehensive picture of the entire U.S. grocery market and how it’s changing over time.

Supermarket sales grew 18 percent, from $395 billion in 2002 to $466 billion in 2007, but the sales of warehouse clubs and supercenters (i.e., BJ’s, Costco, Sam’s Club and Super Walmart) increased by 70 percent during this time period, from $191 billion to $325 billion.

As a result, the supermarket share of the total grocery and food market continued its long-term decline, from 66 percent in 2002 to 63 percent in 2007, and a projected 62 percent in 2009.

During the same time period, clubs and supercenters boosted their market share from 15.6 percent to 19.9 percent in 2007 and 20.6 percent in 2009. This growth has obviously been helped by Walmart’s conversions of Division 1 discount stores to Supercenters, but will taper off as Walmart continues to struggle with the impacts of dollar and limited-assortment stores.

Other findings are as follows:

  • Convenience stores lost share at an accelerating pace between 2002 and 2009, but still rank third, at 6.6 percent.
  • Unsurprisingly, discount department stores were also major losers because of supercenter conversions, but watch for this trend to stabilize or reverse because of Target’s P-Fresh store conversions.
  • Dollar stores (AKA “all other general merchandise stores”) doubled their market share between 2002 and 2007, and this growth will continue because of the sour economy and their rapid expansion (Dollar General now has over 9,100 stores, for example).
  • Ranking fourth -- ahead of dollar stores -- are drug stores, which have increased their market share from 1.2 percent in 2002 to an estimated 1.7 percent in 2009.

However the economy trends, dollar and drug stores will continue to “nibble away at the cheese." They're both convenient female-friendly formats and deserve increased attention. Dollar stores are a major reason for Walmart’s growing price-image problem, while CVS and Walgreens will continue to eat convenience stores' lunch, so to speak. Together, the five major dollar and drug store chains (CVS, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Walgreens) operate almost 40,000 stores. Their growing impacts -- on Walmart as well as on the conventional supermarket industry -- are inevitable as they add food and consumables, and open new stores.














Dr. David Rogers is the president of Northbrook, Ill.-based DSR Marketing Systems Inc. He can be reached at 847-412-4677 or [email protected].


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