Austria flag Austria: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Austria

Evolution of the Sector

Although it is a relatively small country within the EU, Austria is an important strategic economic player because of its geographical location at the crossroads of Europe. Under the EU's Schengen Agreement, Austria enjoys lax border control between itself and its eight neighbouring countries. Today, the Austrian market is saturated in all major sectors and in order to penetrate it, the advertising is a must. The total retail sales area covers an area of 13.8 million square mt, meaning 1.55 square mt per inhabitant, 25% of which is in shopping centres and retail parks (CBRE, 2021). Austria has 122 shopping centers with a combined gross lettable area of about 2.9 million square mt (Bank Austria, 2021). There is a net reduction in retail space due to oversupply (EHL). In 2021, the retail sector recovered from the closures and other restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Austrian retail enterprises achieved a nominal increase in turnover of 5% in 2021 compared to 2020, and sales volume increased by 2.9%. The retail trade of food, beverages and tobacco recorded a nominal increase of 1.7%, and sales volume increased by 0.4% (Statistics Austria). Grocery retailers (especially discounters and supermarkets) record a higher value growth compared with most other channels in store-based retailing, mostly due to increased precautionary buying. The share of organic products is comparably high, with healthy, sustainable products and regionally sourced products registering a strong demand. Overall, continuing shifts of sales towards e-commerce continued to place strong pressure on store-based retailing in the country during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The principal trading zones of the country are Vienna, Vorarlberg and Burgenland, with important areas like Styria and Tirol.

Market share

It is estimated that nearly 80% of the retail market in Austria has been controlled by foreign enterprises, with German companies having a strong presence. In fact, Germany plays a very important role in the Austrian commerce, and it owns more than 15% of the capital invested in some 500 companies. Despite the fluctuations observed during the pandemic, due to increased focus on healthy diet, traditional grocery sales follow a downward trend (Euromonitor, 2022). Supermarkets are the leading channel in grocery retailing and account for a quarter of all outlets and two fifths of total value sales in the country (Euromonitor, 2022). Food distribution is a very secured and dominated by a few big groups market, which control two-thirds of total sales in the country. Three groups dominate this market: Spar, a Dutch conglomerate, with an accumulated market share of 36%; Rewe Austria, a company of German origin, working under the name Billa as a co-operative trade group (network of smaller retailers), with 33.9% market share; and Hofer (23.1%), a subsidiary of Aldi (ORF Salzburg, 2021). Other players are Penny Markt, MPreis, Lidl, and Unimarkt.

Retail Sector Organisations
Austrian Economic Chambers (only Austrian)

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Latest Update: April 2024

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