If you try to find new ways to cut down your monthly expenses and save more money on regular items, you will surely have to consider shopping at discount stores on your to-do-list. Discount stores got their names from their pricing schemes, which is more often than not substantially lower than their competitors.
Most of the merchandise in a discount store is sold for prices that are even below manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. So you know that once you’re in one of those, there will be no room for “just passing by”; and you’re likely to return for more.
Discount stores are really popular – no doubt about it; but are they influent only at local levels? What makes them so attractive? They make up for a large share of the European shopping preferences – among the 14 largest discount store chains, no less than 6 are located in Europe, while the U.S. is host for only 3 of them.
However, in the U.S. there are some more discount-like chains classified as hypermarkets. Stay tuned – this article will introduce you to the 10 main international players on the world market!
Lidl (Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG)
The name of this German global discount supermarket chain sounds familiar to many European buyers, because there are more than 10 000 all across the continent. In 28 countries, to be more precise, and it’s still expanding: until 2015, Lidl is expected to open its doors to American shoppers as well.
Operating discount sales ever since 1930, these stores belong to the holding company Schwarz Gruppe and, like fellow German supermarket Aldi (which is also the greatest competitor), they have no problems with displaying most of their merchandise in original delivery cartons. This non-pretentious arrangement allows the client to take the product directly from its cardboard package. Since such a store works with minimal staffing, there are very few sales assistants and, without having to pay extra personnel, the chain makes profit even with its low prices.
It has weekly special offers and it’s non-food items are changed from time to time. It has a wide variety of branded products and, while importing low-priced gourmet foods from all over Europe, it is a good place to find local products as well. In 2012 Lidl has added bakeries to its stores, and Lidl UK enjoys extra features, such as a cheap DVD rental service and an online photo printing service and discounted prices.
Dansk Supermarked A/S
Denmark largest retailer, Dansk Supermarked is present with more than 1 400 stores on markets from Germany, Sweden, Poland, and U.K. with several chains of stores, among which we can count Netto, Bilka, and Salling, selling food items, as well as clothes and footwear. What sets apart this chain among its competitors is its particular emphasis on solving social and environmental problems, by taking very seriously its responsibilities towards nature, animals, and people.
With only 200 discount stores less than Lidl, Aldi is the other German leading global discount supermarket chain. It is currently present in 18 countries (including the U.S. and Australia) and it continues to grow – roughly, one store is opened each week, in U.K. only. You may find it surprising, but Aldi generally doesn’t accept credit cards – in UK, for example, one can pay by card only since October 2014.
Aldi stores have a general policy of limited advertising, claiming that it is a cost saving that can be passed on to consumers. At the begining, Aldi (short for Albrecht Diskount) shops were often mocked as being cheap stores selling low-quality goods for clients that could not afford to shop elsewhere. However, a recent survey on the German market showed that everyone is shopping here: 95% of blue-collar workers, 88% of white collars, and 84% of the public workers.
This chain specializes in bargain-priced items like food, beverages, sanitary articles, and other inexpensive household products, among which many are own brands. This allows a increase in sales for each article, while also maintaining Aldi shops smaller (and faster) than competitors’.
Dollar General Corp.
Headquartered in Tennessee, Dollar General operates more than 10,000 discount shops in over 40 U.S. states, being generally located in small communities. Apart from selling grocery items, these discount stores offer general inexpensive household products and fair-priced photofinishing products. The chain brand abbreviates DG and it’s very popular among U.S. buyers.
Offering weekly discounts on a variety of items, Dollar General gains steadily in popularity and is on continuous expansion. On the American market, Dollar General has a tradition of over 75 years, competing in this format with other chains such as Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.
Norwegian wholesaler and retail franchiser, Reitan Group has 4 core business areas, located exclusively in Europe. The chain covers 7 countries, with its almost 4 000 discount stores in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the Baltic states. The company is popularly recognized as the most value driven in Scandinavia.
Their discount stores, among which the most popular are REMA 100, are known for not investing much in aesthetic appearances and layout concepts, following their own slogan – “The simple is often the best.” Saving the expenses of displaying the merchandise in more attractive ways allows these supermarkets to maintain very affordable prices. The shopping experience is very much simplified, helping the customers to save time while saving money as well.
Jeronimo Martins, SGPS S.A.
This corporate group owns the Portugal’s leading discount stores chain specialized in food distribution, but also in manufacturing consumer products – Pingo Donce super- and hypermarkets. This retailer also operates Ara brand of discount stores in Columbia and Biedronka chain of no-frills supermarkets in Poland, counting a total of 2 800 sales points. The company is one of the major distributors of Unilever consumer goods. It also provides its customers with food service, pharmacies, and outlets, so you should definitely keep it in mind the next time you go grocery shopping in Lisbon, Warsaw or Bogota!
X5 Retail Group N.V.
A leading Russian food retailer, the company operates on the Western part of the country and in Belarus, in more than one marketing format. It owns Pyaterochka chain of economy class stores, Perekrestok supermarkets, Karusel hypermarkets, and several other convenience stores under various brands, with a total of 2 500 shops. Its retail strategy is to increase market share by means of developing and encouraging modern retail.
Hudson’s Bay Trading Company, L.P.
This successful Canadian retail company has among its assets the high-end department store chain The Bay, Zellers mass-market department store, the Home Outfiters home decor retailer, and Fields, a variety store chain.
In the United States, it operates another high-end department store chain, known as Lord & Taylor. The company also owns the famous Saks Fifth Avennue and Creative Design Studios. They pay particular attention to customer care and feedback, providing attractive client-friendly shopping environments.
Family Dollar Stores, Inc.
A widely known American variety store chain, Family Dollar has more than 8,000 locations in 44 states (from only one store in 1959). This makes it occupy the second position in the top of largest retailers of its type in the Unites States. Its offer includes low-priced food items, but also clothing, inexpensive footwear, and house ware merchandise.
The rapid growth of the company has made it very competitive in comparison with other retailers of brand name everyday consumer basics. Moreover, they have recently developed Point-of-Sale and analytics software, which are of great help in boosting both sales and service. Other key aspects of the modernization process undergone by Family Dollar are merchandising a broader array of products, making available more payment options at the register, and ensuring more convenient shopping and check-outs.
Don Quijote Company, Ltd.
Proudly carrying the name of the famous character created by Cervantes in its novel, Don Quijote Company, Ltd. activates, surprisingly, at a considerable distance from the Iberic Peninsula. Namely, it operates a discount store chain in Japan and, since 2013, in… California and Hawaii as well! The first Don Quijote store opened in Tokyo in the early 1980s.
With only 160 locations, these discount stores are often referred to by its abbreviation, Donki. They stand out with their very late working hours and they pack their merchandise (from basic groceries to electronics and clothing) from ceiling to floor, with a personalized sales strategy that encourages the clients to return to the stores after remembered items. It is famous for a distinctive theme song called “Miracle Shopping” that can often be heard in its stores.
The company has received a lot of public criticism for the poor layout of its stores, which sometimes turned finding the exits into a very challenging task. Here’s a fun fact: one of the Donki stores in a heavily populated area at the very core of Tokyo raised a lot of controversy and still ongoing public debate after installing a functional roller coaster on its roof!