Brazil is a peculiar place. Imagine you are Brazilian and after years of having a little extra disposable income, you and your family see it shrinking again. What do you do? You start grocery shopping at the nearest Cash & Carry. Peculiarly Cash & Carry is not as we know it in other parts of the world – the real name is a made-up word ‘atacarejo’ – which is a mix of ‘atacado’ (wholesale) and ‘varejo’ (retail).
Originally these stores would serve only small/ medium foodservice business, but now Brazilian families are shopping there too. Atacarejos usually charge two prices for the same product: cheaper for those who want volume (wholesale) and more expensive for those who buy less (retail). And the saving is very attractive for Brazilian families, that are on average larger.
From January to April 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, atacarejos grew 7.5% in sales volume , according to Nielsen. In terms of value of sales growth, it reached 5.8 % in 2015. Their success is also a result of new stores in this format opening. While in 2013 there were 299 atacarejos in the country, the number jumped to 436 stores in 2014, according to Supermercado Moderno magazine.
And the three biggest supermarket chains are investing heavily on this format too: Carrefour bought the cash & carry Atacadão for USD$ 1.1 billion, back in 2007 and Walmart has the brand Maxxi, which hasn’t been doing well. GPA (Grupo Pão de Açúcar) owns Assai and in the last three years invested R $ 1 billion to expand the network. According Assai’s CEO Belmiro Gomes “In five years, our revenues grew 200%. In 2015 alone we opened nine new stores and this year has seen three new ones” . Assai has become one of GPA’s success stories.
Indeed, families are shopping less often and stocking up more – but not to a same degree as in the 1990 years of hyperinflation . Nonetheless, families are planning budgets better and buying large quantities at lower prices seems to have lots of advantages. In an interview to Brazil Economico, mother of four and cash&carry shopper Priscila de Andrade said she always plans shoping with her mother and sister-in-law, adding “I buy large quantities because it is cheaper and each of us gets their share”.