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Study: Lidl not very disruptive so far

German discount grocery giant Lidl is not shaking things up to the extent that many had feared.

That’s according to a report by shopper intelligence firm Catalina, which found that the opening of U.S. stores by Lidl was less disruptive to competing supermarkets than some grocers had originally feared. Catalina found that nearby incumbent supermarkets lost close to 7% of overall sales during the first month of a Lidl store opening, but the impact on those same stores declined rapidly, falling to less than 2% of store sales by the fourth month.

The report, “Defending Supermarket Share When Lidl Comes to Town,” also shows that name brand products provided a significant competitive advantage for incumbent grocers versus Lidl's heavy emphasis on private label. The percentage of sales declines among name brands was approximately 3.4 times less than for competing grocers' private-label products. Three departments — produce, beer and wine — accounted for the majority of the total sales decline.

Meanwhile, center store aisles (shelf stables and general merchandise) were far less impacted. Demographically, Hispanic and African American shoppers and larger households were much more likely than the average shopper to shift spending to Lidl. The study found no meaningful variance among income groups.

"This study demonstrates the importance of shopper analytics in helping retailers keep pace with new competitive threats and changing shopper behavior," said Tom Corley, chief global retail officer and president of US Retail. "It is also clear that well-recognized brands can provide a strong competitive advantage against new retail models, including Lidl, that emphasize private labels over name brands.”

Among the findings of the study:

• During the 16-week study period, incumbent stores lost a total of 4.3% of sales. Trips declined 3.6%, and shoppers declined 5.0%.

• Sales declined by 6.8% in the first month, but were down only 1.9% by month four.

• Three departments — produce, beer and wine — accounted for 60% of the total sales decline, even though those departments account for just 16% of overall store sales.

• The center store accounted for just 7% of total losses, although they are approximately 40% of overall store sales.

• Private-label products represented 58% of lost sales, although they account for only 28% of store sales. Name brands represented just 42% of the sales loss, although they account for 71% of store sales.

The study examined shopper behavior at 83 incumbent supermarkets within three miles of 30 Lidl stores that opened in 2017. The study tracked shopper behavior across different grocery departments and demographic groups during the first 16 weeks of a Lidl store opening.

To download the full report, visit
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