You already know about falling sales, disillusioned customers, dwindling market share, Aldi and Lidl, Tescos 263m black hole, and the general sense of sectoral decline.
Thesehave taken huge chunks out of the supermarketsshare prices over the last year, withTesco down 53%, Sainsburys down 37% and Morrisons off42%.
The latest woundis a huge increase in business rates from next April, as revised valuations could hike ratesby up to 40%, further squeezing the business model of their out-of-town superstores.
Thats not all. As if the big supermarkets didnt have enough on their plate, they now stand accused of cannibalising their own sales.
The Inconvenient Truth
Convenience stores, once seen as a saviour, are largely to blame, according to a supermarket expansion report from CBRE and Retail Locations. While convenience store sales have grown strongly, this has come at the expense of the supermarkets larger stores.
CBRE says the spread of convenience store openingshasencouraged repetitive top-up shopping that cannibalises main grocery sales and weekly one-stop shops at superstores, changing consumer behaviour.
Aldi and Lidls aggressive expansion activity is also partly to blame, naturally. Their store numbers have jumped more than 300% since1998, withtheir market share leaping from 2.1% to 8.3%, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
But CBRE says this doesnt explain the sudden drop in the big supermarkets share of main grocery sales since 2011. Convenience stores and growing online sales, have proved heavily margin diluting.
One problem is that it takes up to 15 convenience stores to generate the sales of one major supermarket, and they only sell a limited range of products, which limits sales.
It also erodes the concept of customer loyalty. The clue is in the name: shoppers simply go to the most convenient.
With Sainsburys, M&S Simply Food, Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Aldi and Lidl all expanding their small format stores, the pressure willonly grow. What some saw as a saviour for the supermarket model, could be quite the reverse.
The big supermarkets wont go down without a fight. Morrisons has just posted a 6.3% drop in like-for-like sales in the third quarter, although markets were happy thatthe pace of decline had slowed.
But survival will be even harder if they continue totake a big bite out of their own growth prospects.
Anybody investing in the big supermarkets right now is taking a chance, especially when there are much brighteropportunities to be had.
To give you a flavour of what’s out there,Motley Fool specialists have picked out 5 great FTSE 100 stocks that could help you retire in comfort.
While the supermarkets continue to struggle, these great UK-listed companies are all ideally placed to deliver long-term wealth over the years ahead.
This special report, The Motley Fool’s 5 Shares To Retire On, shows how a combination of long-term growth and juicy yields of more than 4% can help you build a solid retirement fund.
If you want to know which five companies we so admire. and how their shares could fuel yourretirement, click here now for instant access.
Harvey does not own shares in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco.