What will future supermarkets look like

Business model: after 60 years, the supermarket has to reinvent itself

Germany is a supermarket country. According to the retail research institute EHI, there were around 12,000 supermarkets in this country last year - and the trend is still increasing. The network that Edeka, Rewe, Real and Co have spun is more dense than in any other country. But on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the first supermarket in Germany on Tuesday, the “successful supermarket model” is faced with the greatest challenges for decades.

The date of birth of the supermarket in Germany is September 26, 1957. At that time, the merchant Herbert Eklöh opened a grocery store with a sales area of ​​2000 square meters in Cologne's Rhineland Hall - a gigantic store for the time. While elsewhere the corner shops with service by staff dominated, Eklöh relied on self-service, a variety of goods and freshness in the business that no longer exists. Jan Logemann, who is researching the history of consumption at the University of Göttingen, explains that the German businessman had consulted experts from the motherland of the supermarket, the USA, when it came to design.

September 26, 1957 as the date of birth of the supermarket is not undisputed in this country. Some experts date the first attempts at walking as early as 1938 or 1949. “But there is a lot to suggest that Eklöh gave the starting signal for the triumphant advance of the supermarket in Germany. The size of the shop of 2,000 square meters already makes him an absolute pioneer. At that time, other shops were no more than 200 or 300 square meters in size, ”says EHI managing director Michael Gerling.

Retailers benefit from the desire to consume

Today the food trade in Germany is shaped by the large supermarket chains Edeka and Rewe. The growing consumer appetite of German citizens has recently brought retailers strong sales growth. But they don't have time to lean back. Because supermarkets see themselves under pressure from two sides.

Challenge number one: the discounters. Aldi and Lidl are spending billions to make their stores more appealing, and are moving ever closer to the classic supermarkets in terms of appearance and range. The full-range retailers must therefore always come up with new offers in order to keep the distance.