NEW YORK -- An increasing number of supermarket operators around the world are gearing stand-alone sites for their stores as opposed to the traditional inclusion of supermarkets in basements of department stores.
This trend includes many operators in emerging markets in addition to global operators like Ahold and IGA, according to Ira Kalish, principal consultant at Management Horizons. Kalish based his comments on a series of recent visits to retailers in various parts of the world.
He said the stand-alone supermarket trend -- which long ago played out in developed markets -- is now increasingly evident in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Management Horizons, Columbus, Ohio, is a consulting division of Price Waterhouse LLP, based here.
"Many international department stores are more mature and don't have as much room for supermarkets," Kalish said.
Kalish said the new status for supermarkets places them on the middle ground between hypermarkets and convenience stores. Supermarkets can emulate the local convenience of a convenience store but can also compete with hypermarkets on selection and price.
Kalish said some of the biggest global problems for food retailers come from an incorrect assessment of a marketplace.
He cited missteps in Brazil by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, whose entrance into that country in 1995 represented a major threat to the local dominance of Carrefour, the French-owned hypermarket operator.
However, Wal-Mart failed to plan correctly for local shopping habits, Kalish said. Brazilians generally focus almost all their major shopping on weekends, but Wal-Mart's facility wasn't built to handle such a huge load of traffic all at once.
"Wal-Mart didn't have enough parking spaces and its aisles weren't wide enough," he said. While Wal-Mart moved to correct its errors, the changes were expensive, Kalish said. "Eventually, they'll get it right."
Kalish noted global retailers attempting to expand are finding surprisingly strong local or regional competitors. That competition includes Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm, Indonesian hypermarket Goro and Thailand retailer Central Retail Corp.