Sat, Oct 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Hypermarts, convenience stores rule in local retail

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan retained its title as the country with the highest density of convenience stores and ranked second in the hypermarket category, according to the latest ACNielsen report on shopping trends in the Asia-Pacific region.

Given Taiwan's population of 23 million, each convenience store in the country serve about 2,600 people.

In terms of hypermarkets, each outlet serves 212,264 people -- next only to South Korea's record of 177,537 people, said the report dated Oct. 11, which was based on data collected as of the end of last year.

Based on the regular usage of different store formats in urban centers, the grocery retailing structure in the Asia-Pacific area is gradually changing and can be classified into four segments, the report said.

The Pacific states, Hong Kong and Singapore are the most developed markets; South Korea, China and Japan are the most fragmented; Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia are dominated by hypermarkets; and the developing markets of Indonesia, the Philippines and India are fast catching up, the report said.

Among the three hypermarket-dominated areas, Taiwan is significantly more developed than Malaysia and Thailand, with 83 percent of grocery sales going through this retail channel compared with less than 50 percent in the other two countries.

Hypermarkets top the retail store format for more than 50 percent of shoppers in Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand, with a majority of households frequenting them two to three times a month.

The convenience store is also a fast-emerging sector. More than 85 percent of urban shoppers in Taiwan and Thailand frequent convenience stores three or four times a week -- higher than the figure recorded in Japan.

Growth in these modern trade formats has put pressure on supermarkets, where the number of shoppers has been declining.

"To survive, supermarkets will need to effectively differentiate themselves as they struggle to compete with hypermarkets on prices and product range and with convenience stores in terms of location," said Oliver Rust, an executive director at ACNielsen Taiwan's retail measurement services.

Asia Pacific last year reported a 6 percent increase in the number of modern grocery stores from 2004.

Among them, hypermarkets grew 19 percent and convenience stores rose 15 percent during the period, the report said.

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