Top Supermarket Chains in the UK – Location Analysis

In the UK, supermarkets compete fiercely for customers due to the small number of retailers and it is getting harder than ever to know which ones have the best deals, offer great-quality food, and give you five-star service to boot. With the coronavirus pandemic, supermarket chains now face competition from online grocers.

We take a look at the top supermarkets in the UK – Co-op Food, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Nisa, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons, and M&S Simply Food.

Insights in Brief

  • There are more than 12,704 supermarket stores in the UK.
  • Co-op Food is the largest supermarket chain in UK with 3,819 stores.
  • London is the city with the most number of supermarkets.
  • Tesco is the largest supermarket chain in London with 295 stores.

You can download the data used for this analysis and more from our data store.

How many Supermarkets are in the UK

largest-supermarkets-in-the-uk

We analyzed a total of 12,704 locations from 9 of the top supermarket chains in the UK. Co-op Food is the largest supermarket chain with 3,819 locations. Tesco is the second largest with 2,714 stores and Sainsbury’s comes third with 1,421 locations.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s have the largest grocery market share as of October 2020. The UK supermarket sector is dominated by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Morrison Supermarkets, also known as the ‘Big 4’, are the only chains that operate full-scale superstores of 40,000 square feet or more.

In March 2020, the government introduced a year-long break in the payment of business rates across the UK. The largest supermarket chains are estimated to benefit from almost £2 billion in business rate tax breaks. This faced criticism as these supermarkets were allowed to remain open while other firms could not receive support. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Asda, and Morrisons have promised to repay the government for savings made under a tax break for UK firms struggling during the pandemic while Co-op and Waitrose declined.

Co-op Food

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There are 3,819 Co-op Food stores operating in the UK. London (166), Glasgow (61), and Leicester (52) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets.

Co-op Food has more stores than any UK supermarket chain, with a big presence in rural areas. Co-op grocery stores are the place to find the best local food because they know their local farmers and family business owners by name. Their stores have premium product ranges, and customers can donate to local charitable causes with every shop if they become members of the ethical cooperative.

Tesco

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There are 2,714 Tesco stores in the UK. London (295), Bristol (43), and Glasgow (41) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. Tesco is a British multinational company that sells grocery and general merchandise and accounts for 27.8% of the market share of supermarket chains operating in the country.

Tesco’s product range focuses on price over quality. Their larger hypermarket format is called Tesco Extra, while city center stores are called Tesco Metro or Tesco Express.

Sainsbury’s

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There are 1,421 Sainsbury’s stores present in the UK. London (279), Glasgow (27), and Edinburgh (27) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. 56% of Sainsbury’s locations are city center-based stores called Sainsbury’s Local.

Nisa

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Nisa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Co-op Food Group has 1,178 supermakets operating in the UK. London (81), Birmingham (31), and Leeds (21) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets.

Aldi

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There are 906 Aldi supermakets operating in the UK. Liverpool (7), Cardiff (9), and London (6) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. The German discounter offers a no-frills shopping experience and cheaper products. Aldi stores are increasingly found in more central locations of England.

Lidl

lidl-supermarket-location-map

The German retailer, Lidl has 842 supermakets in the UK. London (23), Bristol (14), and Glasgow (13) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. Lidl has also taken the UK market by storm in recent years. A cheaper mix of fresh produce and non-food goods make these stores increasingly popular.

Asda

asda-supermarket-location-map

Asda has 634 stores operating in the UK. London (12), Manchester (10), and Leeds (10) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. A Yorkshire-based chain, ASDA is focusing on low-price products and hypermarket-format stores, the retailer has a limited presence in London compared to other supermarket chains in the UK.

Asda is owned by Walmart but the company in October 2020 announced it will sell majority ownership to Eg Group founders, the ISSA brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital for $6.8 billion.

Morrisons

morrisons-location-map

Morrisons has 629 stores in the UK. Jersey (14), Glasgow (12), and Leeds (12) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets. Morrisons started as a regional supermarket in Yorkshire and has since expanded. The company focuses on fresh produce and a market-style shopping experience at reasonable prices.

Marks & Spencer Simply Food

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The internationally-renowned department store Marks & Spencer has always sold food alongside its fashion and homewares. There are 561 Marks & Spencer Simply Food stores operating in the UK. London (43), Glasgow (10), and Reading (9) are the cities with the most number of supermarkets.

Marks & Spencer has cemented its reputation for quality food and drink products, scoring well with customers for both its own-brand and fresh produce. In recent decades, the company has branched out into premium food-only stores, called M&S Foodhall.

Which City has the most Supermarkets

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London has the most number of supermarkets with 957 locations, followed by are Glasgow (198) and Bristol (156).

Tesco is the largest supermarket chain in London with 295 stores. Followed by Sainsbury’s (279) and Co-op Foods (166).

Pressure on Supermarkets as a result of Covid- 19

When Covid-19 first began to engulf Europe, Google searches for “food delivery” in the UK reached all-time highs in April. Demand for online grocery has soared far beyond capacity as the demand is simply unprecedented. With the lockdown pressure piling up, supermarkets and delivery giants like Ocado, Deliveroo, and Amazon Fresh quickly became overwhelmed.

Sales for supermarket chains in the UK increased during the coronavirus pandemic than at any point in the last 26 years, as the extent of shoppers’ stockpiling became clear. These retailers are very efficient at providing a lot of food for a lot of people but they have their vulnerabilities. Despite making profits, chains such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have high costs of expanding online delivery operations. As no one expects online grocery to go back to pre-Covid levels, big supermarket chains cannot have a slow adoption toward online grocery as they hoped for.

The ScrapeHero Data Store tracks store closures and openings, that focuses on convenience storesdiscount stores, auto parts stores, urgent care, and pharmacy. You can subscribe to our store data plans and get datasets with data points such as store openings, store closures, parking availability, in-store pickup option, services, subsidiaries, nearest competitor stores, and much more.

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