Grocery Retailing in Latin America

June 2021

Grocery retailing recorded a sales decline in Latin America in 2020, with most countries seeing worsening performances, including particularly steep declines in Argentina and Peru. Local economies, and therefore many households’ financial circumstances, were badly hit by the measures taken to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, grocery retailing is expected to register healthy annual growth rates over the forecast period, in spite of the pandemic’s lingering economic impact.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

COVID-19 hits grocery retailing in 2020

Although grocery retailers were generally allowed to remain open, as “essential retail”, they were still negatively impacted by the pandemic in 2020. The economic consequences of the measures taken to control the spread of the virus, such as job losses, meant that household disposable incomes were feeling the pinch in 2020.

Forecourt retailing a major “loser” in 2020

Forecourt-based retailers were heavily affected by the pandemic in 2020. Steep declines in sales were down to the major reduction in road traffic, particularly at outlets not located close to residential areas. With travel severely restricted in much of 2020, losses in consumer traffic and sales were high. Although some traditional grocery retailers were able to meet the demand for local neighbourhood shopping facilities, many struggled during the pandemic, with independent outlets in particular finding it hard to cope with the extra financial burden caused by COVID-19.

Development of e-commerce and digital technology

With consumers reluctant to leave home for fear of coming into contact with COVID-19, e-commerce, including click-and-collect, gained in popularity as a safe and convenient means of shopping. Retailers, in addition to developing their own e-commerce operations, were also teaming up with last mile delivery companies to supply home shoppers. The launch of the PIX instant payment solution by the Central Bank of Brazil in late 2020 was also seen as the ideal option for small businesses looking to accept digital payments.

Positive growth expected in the forecast period

In spite of the pandemic’s economic impact, grocery retailing will return to positive growth from 2021. Discounters will remain popular thanks to their low prices, while any channels struggling in 2020 are expected to record healthy growth rates in 2021.

Key findings
Latin America’s grocery retailing sales in decline
Latin America to see positive annual growth in the forecast period
Mexico continues to record positive growth in 2020
Mexican gains unable to offset the declines in Argentina and Brazil
Modern grocery retailers outperform their traditional counterparts
Dip in sales as pandemic impacts disposable incomes in 2020
Limited concentration due to independent traditional grocery retailers
Walmart remains the clear leader in grocery retailing
Brazil and Mexico the main revenue generators for the leading players
Walmart has the top two brands in Latin America
After the decline seen in 2020…
…grocery retailing is set for positive growth over the forecast period
Argentina: Market Context
Argentina: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Bolivia: Market Context
Bolivia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Brazil: Market Context
Brazil: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Chile: Market Context
Chile: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Colombia: Market Context
Colombia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Costa Rica: Market Context
Costa Rica: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Dominican Republic: Market Context
Dominican Republic: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ecuador: Market Context
Ecuador: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Guatemala: Market Context
Guatemala: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Mexico: Market Context
Mexico: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Peru: Market Context
Peru: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Uruguay: Market Context
Uruguay: Competitive and Retail Landscape


Retail is the sale of new and used goods to consumers from a business for personal or household consumption from retail outlets, kiosks, market stalls, vending, direct selling and e-commerce. Retail is the aggregation of Retail Offline and Retail E-Commerce. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts. Also excludes fuel sales, foodservice sales, rental transactions, and wholesale sales (e.g. Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retail also excludes the informal retail sector. Informal retailing is retail trade which is not declared to the tax authorities. Informal retailing encompasses (a) sales generated by unregistered and unlicensed retailers, i.e. retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer that is not declared to the tax authorities. Unregistered and unlicensed retailers operate predominantly (although not exclusively) as street hawkers or operate open market stalls, as these channels are harder for the authorities to monitor than permanent outlets. Activities in the illegal market, which is usually understood to refer to trade in illegal, counterfeit or stolen merchandise, are included within our definition of informal retailing. Activities in the “grey market”, which is usually understood to refer to trade in legal merchandise that is sold through unauthorized channels – for example cigarettes bought legally in another country, legally imported, but sold at lower prices than in authorized channels – will be included as informal retailing if no tax is paid on sale by the retailer. However if the retailer pays tax – for example on cigarettes bought legally in another country but sold at a lower price than standard – the sale is included within formal retail.

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