Just How Dominant Are Woolworths And Coles?

Massive market share for Woolworths and Coles is the backdrop to virtually every discussion of the supermarket industry in Australia, but just how large is that share? The answer is: enormous, but it does depend on how you look at it.

Trolley picture from Shutterstock

The Conversation’s new election fact checker site looked into the numbers, which are complicated to calculate and come from a number of sources. The two key stats to take away:

  • Collectively, Woolworths and Coles account for about 70 per cent of packaged grocery sales — an enormous proportion.
  • For fresh produce — fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy — the share is somewhat lower, at 50 per cent.

While those numbers are high, they aren’t at the 80 per cent level that is sometimes quoted. More tellingly, they suggest that despite all the emphasis on “freshness” at both chains, plenty of us prefer to buy our fresh items elsewhere.

For shoppers, the advice remains the same as ever: shop around to find the best match of price and quality you can. For business owners, the results are more mixed. In packaged goods, it seems clear that if you’re not selling into the big two, your chances of survival are slim. The market for fresh goods is not as dominated yet, but concerns over whether it will head that way seem unlikely to disappear in the near future.

FactCheck: do Coles and Woolies control 80% of the market? [The Conversation]


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