Tiendas D1 is considered the little giant of Colombian supermarkets with a big network of small neighborhood grocery stores throughout Colombia.
When I first started living in Medellín over five years ago I primarily shopped for groceries at the big box Exito stores as well as Carrefour, which was sold to Cencosud in Chile in 2012 and rebranded as Jumbo.
In addition to Exito, I now shop regularly at Tiendas D1 as well as PriceSmart and our grocery bill each month has dropped substantially as a result.
There is a Tiendas D1 store within walking distance from our apartment. I started shopping at this D1 for some staples last year and their prices are typically much lower than at Exito. They also have some decent wine at good prices.
What is Tiendas D1?
D1’s strategy is to open very small grocery stores in local neighborhoods with good prices. They essentially are a no frills store with low overhead.
D1 has a policy that if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of their products you can return them without explanation and they will return your money. They also have a policy of low prices at all time without advertising or promotions.
In D1 you bag your own groceries and bags cost money (50 pesos each) so bring your own. They are also cash only. They don’t accept credit cards or debit cards. Each D1 store is relatively small and they are pretty non-descript with just a D1 sign out front.
Tiendas D1 nearly doubled its total sales in Colombia last year due to the opening of many more stores in neighborhoods of Colombian cities and its low price strategy.
The company added 100 stores in Colombia last year, growing from 319 to 419 stores. Revenue at the company in 2015 reportedly increased 96.6% compared to 2014.
D1 sells a range of grocery products but they usually only have one brand of each product, such as one brand of white sugar or one brand of ketchup. In D1 you won’t find the big selection of different brands that you will find in an Exito or Jumbo.
You will normally find only about 500 or less products in each of the small D1 stores compared to many thousands of products found in an Exito store.
What About Pricing?
Pricing in general in D1 is lower than the pricing you will find in Exito or Jumbo for similar items.
To compare pricing I surveyed the pricing of 13 different items in a D1 store in Sabaneta and an Exito store in Sabaneta and here are the results:
Out of the 13 items I surveyed, only one was not cheaper than in Exito – white sugar was the same price in both stores. The average savings of the items I surveyed was 24 percent.
You can find many items sold in D1 that are at least 30 percent cheaper than in Exito.
We use D1 to buy a number of staples including paper towels, plastic bags, cleaners, eggs, bread, canned tuna and several other products.
Where Can You Find D1?
D1 has well over 100 stores in the Medellín metro area. They have over 80 stores in Medellín, 17 stores in Envigado, 5 stores in Sabaneta, 14 stores in Bello and 14 in Itaguii.
You can find a list of D1 store addresses on the company website. The company also has stores in many other cities in Colombia.
The Bottom Line
We started shopping at PriceSmart when it opened in December 2014 and Tiendas D1 since moving to Sabaneta in July last year and our monthly grocery bill has dropped by over 35% (in terms of pesos) since mid 2014.
We also started shopping at the new Makro that opened near the Poblado metro station after it opened in March this year.
The bottom line is we haven’t seen any impact of inflation in our grocery bills by starting to shop at lower cost stores.
In fact, Nielsen reported that the low-cost channel that includes D1 and PriceSmart in Colombia is extremely popular and nearly doubled its presence in Colombian households last year.