Poland is a major player in the eastern European retail market, following only Russia in terms of size. Despite almost two decades of growth, the retail market was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 and the Ukraine criss in the following year. Despite this setback, the IMF still predicts a yearly average of 3.2% real GDP growth for the next five years.
The biggest concern over the next few years will be the rapid increase in prices, particularly for food and energy. In August 2022, the annual inflation rate reached 16.1% and is expected to remain high for the ongoing short term future.
The uncertain job market and high inflation will cause consumers to limit spending on non-essential items for much of the forecast period. The share of food, beverages, and tobacco in total consumer spending rose to over 24% in 2020 and will remain high until the end of the forecast period. Retail sales are predicted to decline in real terms in 2022, remain subdued in 2023-2024, before rebounding. Recently, the Polish government released data that showed a significant decrease in both industrial production and retail sales growth in June. The government is working to protect the economy from the effects of the war in Ukraine by simplifying the tax system and providing subsidies to increase disposable income. Foreign-owned retailers should be cautious of potential policy reforms, as a retail sales tax was imposed on them in January 2021, and a tax on sugary drinks was introduced.
Poland has become one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in Europe due to its large population and strengthening economy. Despite a boom during the pandemic, online sales are expected to slow down slightly in the near term but will still grow at a strong pace. The sector has the potential to attract investment and foreign players over the next 5 years. The top online stores in Poland include Allegro (consumer goods), Empik (books and games), Euro and Mediaexpert (consumer electronics), and Zalando (fashion). In 2021, Allegro raised $2.3 billion through an IPO in Warsaw and plans to invest in developing its own parcel locker network.
In terms of is retail landscape, data from Rzeczpospolita suggests that Lidl is the clear leading food retailer in the country with a 35.8% of market shares. Also, the owner of Lidl, Schwarz Group (Germany), whose other brand in the country, Kauand, is the fourth-largest food retailer with a market share of 5%.
Other food retailers include Biedronka, which is owned by Jeronimo Martins from Portugal and is the second largest food retailer with a market share of 30.4%; Auchan from France was the third largest with a market share of 9%; Tesco from the UK sold its 301 stores in Poland to Salling Group from Denmark for £181m, causing them to withdraw from the country. Discount chains such as Aldi and Action are expected to grow their market share due to ongoing issues like the war in Ukraine and high inflation affecting household spending. Convenience stores, like Zabka Polska, are becoming more popular during the pandemic. Zabka has been modernizing its stores to make shopping easier and has already opened 25 check-out-free stores with plans to open 15 more in the near future.
The top online stores in Poland include Allegro (consumer goods), Empik (books and games), Euro and Mediaexpert (consumer electronics), and Zalando (fashion). In 2021, Allegro raised $2.3 billion through an IPO in Warsaw and plans to invest in developing its own parcel locker network. It is also the clear market leader as of 2022, with Euromintor estimating its e-commerce market shares at about 35.9%.
Online grocery shopping is expected to be among the fastest growing areas in the next 5 years, with most grocery retailers now offering click-and-collect services and home deliveries becoming more popular in big cities due to the pandemic. Carrefour launched a grocery delivery service in Warsaw and Krakow in 2020, and Biedronka partnered with the Spanish delivery company Glovo. Frisco.pl, owned by Eurocash, dominates the online grocery market in Warsaw.
International players in the market include AliExpress from China, Amazon and eBay from the US, and Zalando from Germany. In 2021, Amazon launched a Polish-language website to help shoppers avoid additional charges for ordering on an international website. Competition between Amazon and Allegro is expected to increase and boost online sales over the next 5 years. Digital payments are widely used in Poland, with companies like Twisto from the Czech Republic offering deferred payment options for online purchases.
Experience as the Differentiating Factors: The services provided in conjunction with online sales are expected to be key factors in differentiating among e-commerce players. Retailers that offer free delivery and returns, technology-aided visual product demonstrations, and convenient payment options like Blik with 0% installment fees are expected to have a significant impact on customer choice due to the growing competition in the sector. Additionally, brick-and-mortar stores are using chatbots to enhance customer experience and launching online sales to drive traffic, highlighting the increasing importance of an omnichannel strategy. Social media is expected to continue to be used by brands and live broadcasting is likely to become a popular marketing method in the near future.
Unequally Distributed Growth: Smaller and newer product categories, such as home improvement and gardening, are expected to experience more significant growth in online sales over the forecast period. Despite substantial growth in this sector during the pandemic, the starting point was low and therefore presents a substantial opportunity for further growth, with projections for the highest value growth at constant 2021 prices over the forecast period. To tap into this potential, leading players like Leroy Merlin, Obi, and Castorama are expected to enhance their e-commerce offerings to appeal to a wider consumer base.
In Poland, There are about 16.5% of people use credit cards, and 79.3% of people use debit cards. While there are 47.8% of people purchase on the internet, there is only 52.4% of people with online banking accounts.
% with financial accounts
% with credit cards
% with debit cards
% get paid through digital channels
% buy on the internet
% with internet banking
% pay bill through online
% E-Commerce Penetration
There is 21.00 million consumer goods e-commerce users in Poland, and they spend total of around 13.83 billion USD dollars in 2021. That makes a per capita spending on consumer goods e-commerce of around 658 USD. Also, in those e-commerce users, about 41.5% of them purchase through their mobile phone.