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 gross leasable area covers an area of 14.7 million square mt, meaning 1.7 square mt per inhabitant, 25% of which is in shopping centres and retail parks. Thanks to continued improvement in consumer sentiment and falling unemployment, overall retailing sales in Austria remained stable in 2019. In the same year, grocery retailers (especially discounters and supermarkets) recorded a higher value growth compared with most other channels in store-based retailing, mostly due to the consumers’ increasing willingness to buy healthy and sustainable products. The share of organic products is comparably high, with sustainable products and regionally sourced products registering a strong demand.
Sales in grocery retailing were led by Rewe International AG and Spar Österreichische Warenhandels AG; however, discount stores recorded the stronger gains in value share and consumer frequencies. Overall, continuing shifts of sales towards e-commerce continued to place strong pressure on store-based retailing in the country in 2019. 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. Traditional grocery retailers recorded a small decline in current value terms in 2019, although Nielsen estimated the Austrian food retail industry to have grown 2.1% in the same year. 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: Rewe Austria, a company of German origin, working under the name Billa as a co-operative trade group (network of smaller retailers); Spar, a Dutch conglomerate; and Hofer, a subsidiary of Aldi. In the first half of 2020 Spar has achieved market leadership in Austria’s food retailing sector with an accumulated market share of 34%, followed by Rewe. Other players are Penny Markt, MPreis, Lidl, and Unimarkt.

Retail Sector Organisations
Austrian Economic Chambers (only Austrian)

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Latest Update: June 2022

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