Poland’s retail sector has been growing steadily in recent years, while the total number of shops reduced to 385,700 in 2008 from 449,000 by end-2002, after fast growth in the early 1990s, and more importantly due to the rise of hypermarket and supermarket groups, which currently sell both food and non-food items, including a wide range of consumer goods of reasonable quality and at competitive prices. Other retail outlets selling similar items are thus subject to intensified competition, resulting in a fall in the number of such retail shops.
Thanks to their competitive prices, wide-ranging offerings and generous in-store credit, hypermarkets, supermarkets and discount stores are important players in the Polish retail sector, accounting for more than a quarter of the total store-based retail sales in the country. In a bid to satisfy the rising consumerism and preference for one-stop shopping in Poland, many hypermarket/supermarket chains in the country have renovated their stores and incorporated more non-grocery goods such as clothing, footwear and electronics products. This movement not only helps diversify hypermarkets/supermarkets’ business in Poland, but also further circumscribes the growth of grey and second-hand markets. The vast distribution networks throughout the whole country of these hypermarkets/supermarkets are certainly good business counterparts with whom Hong Kong exporters should make contact when planning to tap into the Polish market. As a matter of fact, some of these hypermarket/supermarket chains have set up offices or appointed agents in the Chinese mainland or other Southeast Asian countries to perform sourcing and quality control. To jump start, Hong Kong exporters can approach the offices of these Polish buyers in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland for business.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of shopping centres in Poland has led to the building of larger and better stocked stores, though relatively scattered. There are currently over 270 modern shopping centres in Poland. Some 94% of these are traditional shopping centres and 6% are retail parks and factory outlets. Out of a total 6.5 million square metres of shopping-centre space in Poland, two-thirds are located in major cities with more than 400,000 inhabitants.
Nowadays, Polish shoppers look not only for value, but also an improved shopping experience. To enhance the entertainment value of the shopping experience and in particular to appease the younger generation’s preference for modern shopping, many shopping centres in Poland have undergone renovation and incorporated into their shopping centres more elements like movie theatres, coffee shops, beauty and spa salons, fine boutiques and restaurants.
In fact, the development of organised retail has gone hand in hand with the mushrooming of national retailers that have retail points scattered across the whole country and in neighbouring countries. These national retail operators are good partners for new-to-the-market Hong Kong companies when making their debut in Poland as well as the CEE region.
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