Chile flag Chile: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Chile

Evolution of the Sector

The Chilean food retail sector is composed of a mix of large supermarkets, mid-sized grocery stores, convenience stores, gas station markets and thousands of smaller independent neighborhood convinience stores. The Chilean retail industry is the most developed in the Latin American region, with retail sales reported at USD 14.3 billion in 2019, with a 5% increase over the previous year (US Foreign Agricultural Service). On-line food sales are still low, although slowly growing, especially as a result of social distancing measures and strict quarantines implemented in 2020 to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2019
the Chilean food retail sector comprised 1,382 stores, including hypermarkets, supermarkets and other small food retail stores with a minimum of three checkouts, with 34% of them are in the Metropolitan region.
It is worth noting that Chile is becoming increasingly urbanised. This is not only true in the Santiago Metropolitan Region (which accounts for one-third of the country's population), but also in provincial or second-tier cities. The distribution sector has been adjusting to this trend, especially grocery retailing, which has been adopting a convenience store model through chained convenience stores and smaller supermarkets located close to consumers in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. This development is also due to a scarcity of retail space and Chilean consumers' interest in convenience.

Market share
The distribution sector in Chile is highly concentrated with only a small number of actors sharing a majority of total sales. There are eight major supermarket chains in Chile, targeting different customer profiles with different format stores, spread all over the country.

Chile’s main supermarket groups in 2019 were (US Department of Agriculture):
- Walmart Chile, the largest supermarket chain in the country in terms of revenue with a market share of approximately 41.9%, operating around 363 stores under the Líder and Express de Líder brands
- Cencosud, with a market share of around 34%, operating around 247 hypermarkets and supermarkets under the Jumbo and Santa Isabel brands
- SMU is the third largest chain with a market share of 21% and 290 stores under Unimarcbrand
- Tottus (owned by Falabella) with a market share of 4% and 69 hypermarkets and supermarkets.

Retail Sector Organisations
Asociacion Gremial de Supermercados de Chile

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Latest Update: June 2022

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