USDA FAS reports: Mexico's retail sector looks for a rebound

01/03/2011 12:19:47 AM
Tom Karst

The just-issued 14-page USDA FAS report on the Mexican retail sector is found here. Lots of chain specific numbers and economic analysis makes this report a must-read for any fresh produce exporter doing business in Mexico.

From the report.....

The retail sector has undergone a transformation over the past 15 years, beginning with Wal-Mart entering the market in association with Aurrera (Grupo Cifra) in 1997. Through its entrance into the Mexican supermarket sector, Wal-Mart has redefined the local retail industry, forcing major changes and creating a more modern, dynamic retail segment.

High quality transportation methods are available in Mexico from the U.S. border, throughout the country, and all the way to the Guatemalan border and beyond. While there is still a need to improve the handling of refrigerated and frozen products, more sophisticated practices in cold chain distribution are ensuring that American perishables reach their destinations with little loss along the way. Mexico’s expanding retail sector is opening new opportunities for U.S. products in the local market.

Executive Summary: 2009 was a historically poor year for the Mexican economy. The Mexican retail sector also suffered and experienced dips in sales, income and spending. For 2010, Mexico’s GDP is projected to grow by 5.1% helping the economy recover.

This increase reflects consumer confidence and spending will surpass not only 2009 levels, but also the historically high levels recorded in 2008. Additionally, foreign direct investment for 2010 will surpassed that of 2008, bringing in much needed capital into Mexico. In 2010, Mexican imports increased by 13% and exports by 36%, as reported by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Mexico2. I

nflation is expected to close at 4.32%, while the exchange rate has decreased to an average 12.27 pesos per dollar in 2010, from 13.07 pesos per dollar in 2009, and 13.83 pesos per dollar in 2008. Remittances are also on the rise, contributing up to 4% of Mexico’s GDP. Overall, this upswing in the economy is being reflected in Mexico’s expanding retail sector which is opening new opportunities for U.S. products in the local market.

Section I. Market Summary The retail sector has undergone a transformation over the past 15 years, beginning with Wal-Mart entering the market in association with Aurrera (Grupo Cifra) in 1997.

Through its entrance into the Mexican supermarket sector, Wal-Mart has redefined the local retail industry, forcing major changes and creating a more modern, dynamic retail segment. Other international retailers such as HEB and Carrefour have entered the market with varying degrees of success.

While HEB continues to grow across northern Mexico, Carrefour has been taken over by Chedraui, a regional Mexican retailer that is expanding nationwide. Local retailers were forced to modernize their businesses, adopting the latest technology and distribution methods. As a result, the Mexican retail segment has become more competitive, offering consumers better quality at significantly lower prices with wider distribution nationwide. Products that were once available only seasonally or in specialty stores in large cities are now available year round throughout the country.

Today, retail practices of all major players in the Mexican retail market are current, mirroring successful U.S. business practices and adapting to meet the needs of the local market. This modern, extremely competitive arena has local retailers such as Soriana and Chedraui in Mexico competing effectively with Wal-Mart and other foreign companies in every segment of the retail market.

Mexico’s retail sector is bouncing back from the all-time low recorded in 2009. For 2010, retail sales are expected to close with an increase of 8.7% over last year, closing at $913 billion pesos or $74.4 billion USD, primarily attributed to new store openings. Retail outlets directed at the lower economic segment of the population are driving growth through new floor space, reaching deeper into neighborhoods where no supermarket presence previously existed.

This supermarket sector is projected to grow 8.1% by year end. The retail segment with the overall highest growth for 2010 was “specialty” stores as defined by the Association of Nationwide Retailers (ANTAD), driven by the 8.8% growth rate in 2010 of convenience stores3. Supermarkets are also implementing new formats such as Bodega Express by Wal-Mart. Bodega Express caters to lower-end consumer markets and is driving growth because of its success in reaching a large segment of the population in Mexico that was previously ignored. Many of these customers are new to the segment and historically conducted most of their shopping in street markets or “tianguis.” These smaller, more efficient retail stores offer U.S. goods increased opportunity to expand into the Mexican market, reaching more consumers throughout the country.

By comparison, high-end supermarkets such as Superama or City Market had very few or no new store openings in 2010. High quality transportation methods are available in Mexico from the U.S. border, throughout the country, and all the way to the Guatemalan border and beyond. While there is still a need to improve the handling of refrigerated and frozen products, more sophisticated practices in cold chain distribution are ensuring that American perishables reach their destinations with little loss along the way.

Unfortunately, retaliatory tariffs from Mexico resulting from the U.S.-Mexico cross border trucking dispute, have affected trade of many U.S. agricultural products destined to Mexico. These tariffs are reflected by higher prices at the point of sale, where the added costs are passed on to consumers.

While the deteriorating security situation is an ongoing threat, transportation companies such as Celadon are teaming up with the growing number of security specialists to ensure that commerce is not affected.

Celadon, with 150,000 border crossings per year, has taken measures to safeguard its presence in the NAFTA region. The company has installed surveillance cameras in all of its terminals and anti-theft tracking devises on trailers and tractors into Mexico.

With these types of measures Celadon, as well as other transportation companies, ensure deliveries are met and can recuperate merchandise and equipment if problems arise. An increase in both new store investments and retail sales demonstrates that retailers are pushing to grow their businesses in Mexico despite current security threats.

 Retail Outlets in Mexico ANTAD reported over 19,000 stores nationwide as of August, 2010. These stores include supermarkets, department stores, and “specialized” stores grouping pharmacies, office supply stores, and convenience stores among others.



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