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A supermarket, a large form of the traditional grocery store, is a self-service shop offering a

wide variety of food and household products, organized into aisles. It is larger in size and has a
wider selection than a traditional grocery store, but is smaller and more limited in the range of
merchandise than a hypermarket or big-box market.
The supermarket typically comprises meat, fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods aisles, along
with shelf space reserved for canned and packaged goods as well as for various non-food items
such as kitchenware, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. Some
supermarkets also sell a variety of other household products that are consumed regularly, such as
alcohol (where permitted), medicine, and clothes, and some stores sell a much wider range of
non-food products: DVDs, sporting equipment, board games, and seasonal items (e.g., Christmas
wrapping paper in December).
The traditional supermarket occupies a large amount of floor space, usually on a single level. It is
usually situated near a residential area in order to be convenient to consumers. The basic appeal
is the availability of a broad selection of goods under a single roof, at relatively low prices. Other
advantages include ease of parking and frequently the convenience of shopping hours that extend
into the evening or even 24 hours a day. Supermarkets usually allocate large budgets to
advertising, typically through newspapers. They also present elaborate in-shop displays of
products. The shops are usually part of corporate chains that own or control (sometimes by
franchise) other supermarkets located nearbyeven transnationallythus increasing
opportunities for economies of scale.
Supermarkets typically are supplied by the distribution centres of their parent companies, usually
in the largest city in the area. Supermarkets usually offer products at relatively low prices by
using their buying power to buy goods from manufacturers at lower prices than smaller stores
can. They also minimise financing costs by paying for goods at least 30 days after receipt and
some extract credit terms of 90 days or more from vendors. Certain products (typically staple
foods such as bread, milk and sugar) are very occasionally sold as loss leaders, that is, with
negative profit margins so as to attract shoppers to their store. There is some debate as to the
effectiveness of this tactic. To maintain a profit, supermarkets make up for the lower margins by
a higher overall volume of sales, and with the sale of higher-margin items bought by the intended
higher volume of shoppers. Customers usually shop by placing their selected merchandise into
shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets (self-service) and pay for the merchandise at the check-out.
At present, many supermarket chains are attempting to further reduce labor costs by shifting to
self-service check-out machines, where a single employee can oversee a group of four or five
machines at once, assisting multiple customers at a time.
A larger full-service supermarket combined with a department store is sometimes known as a
hypermarket. Other services offered at some supermarkets may include those of banks, cafs,
childcare centres/creches, photo processing, video rentals, pharmacies and/or petrol stations.
1 History
2 Growth in developing countries
3 Typical supermarket merchandise
4 Typical store architecture
5 Criticisms
6 See also
7 References
8 Further reading
9 External links

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this
article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged
and removed. (July 2010)

A supermarket in Sweden in 1941

Consumers shopping for fresh produce and fruit.
In the early days of retailing, all products generally were fetched by an assistant from shelves
behind the merchant's counter while customers waited in front of the counter and indicated the
items they wanted. Also, most foods and merchandise did not come in individually wrapped
consumer-sized packages, so an assistant had to measure out and wrap the precise amount
desired by the consumer. This also offered opportunities for social interaction: many regarded
this style of shopping as "a social occasion" and would often "pause for conversations with the
staff or other customers."
These practices were by nature very labor-intensive and therefore
also quite expensive. The shopping process was slow, as the number of customers who could be
attended to at one time was limited by the number of staff employed in the store.
The concept of an inexpensive food market relying on large economies of scale was developed
by Vincent Astor. He founded the Astor Market in 1915, investing $750,000 of his fortune into a
165' by 125' corner of 95th and Broadway, Manhattan, creating, in effect, an open air mini-mall
that sold meat, fruit, produce and flowers. The expectation was that customers would come from
great distances ("miles around"), but in the end even attracting people from ten blocks away was
difficult, and the market folded in 1917.

The concept of a self-service grocery store was developed by entrepreneur Clarence Saunders
and his Piggly Wiggly stores. His first store opened in 1916. Saunders was awarded a number of
patents for the ideas he incorporated into his stores.
The stores were a financial success
and Saunders began to offer franchises. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which was
established in 1859, was another successful early grocery store chain in Canada and the United
States, and became common in North American cities in the 1920s. The general trend in retail
since then has been to stock shelves at night so that customers, the following day, can obtain
their own goods and bring them to the front of the store to pay for them. Although there is a
higher risk of shoplifting, the costs of appropriate security measures ideally will be outweighed
by reduced labor costs.
[citation needed]

Early self-service grocery stores did not sell fresh meats or produce. Combination stores that sold
perishable items were developed in the 1920s.

Historically, there was debate about the origin of the supermarket, with King Kullen and Ralphs
of California having strong claims.
Other contenders included Weingarten's Big Food Markets
and Henke & Pillot.
To end the debate, the Food Marketing Institute in conjunction with the
Smithsonian Institution and with funding from H.J. Heinz, researched the issue. It defined the
attributes of a supermarket as "self-service, separate product departments, discount pricing,
marketing and volume selling."
[citation needed]

It has been determined that the first true supermarket in the United States was opened by a
former Kroger employee, Michael J. Cullen, on August 4, 1930, inside a 6,000-square-foot
(560 m
) former garage in Jamaica, Queens in New York City.
The store, King Kullen,
operated under the slogan "Pile it high. Sell it low." At the time of Cullen's death in 1936, there
were seventeen King Kullen stores in operation. Although Saunders had brought the world self-
service, uniform stores and nationwide marketing, Cullen built on this idea by adding separate
food departments, selling large volumes of food at discount prices and adding a parking lot.

A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s
Other established American grocery chains in the 1930s, such as Kroger and Safeway at first
resisted Cullen's idea, but eventually were forced to build their own supermarkets as the
economy sank into the Great Depression, while consumers were becoming price-sensitive at a
level never experienced before.
Kroger took the idea one step further and pioneered the first
supermarket surrounded on all four sides by a parking lot.
[citation needed]

Supermarkets proliferated across Canada and the United States with the growth of automobile
ownership and suburban development after World War II. Most North American supermarkets
are located in suburban strip shopping centers as an anchor store along with other smaller
retailers. They are generally regional rather than national in their company branding. Kroger is
perhaps the most nationally oriented supermarket chain in the United States but it has preserved
most of its regional brands, including Ralphs, City Market, King Soopers, Fry's, Smith's, and
[citation needed]

Pyatorochka supermarket in Moscow, Russia
In Canada, the largest such chain is Loblaw, which operates stores under a variety of regional
names, including Fortinos, Zehrs, No Frills, the Real Canadian Superstore, and the largest,
Loblaws, (named after the company itself). Sobeys is Canada's second largest supermarket with
locations across the country, operating under many banners (Sobeys IGA in Quebec).
[citation needed]

Qubec's first supermarket opened in 1934 in Montral, under the banner Steinberg's.

In the United Kingdom, self-service shopping took longer to become established. Even in 1947,
there were just ten self-service shops in the country.
In 1951, ex-US Navy sailor Patrick
Galvani, son-in-law of Express Dairies chairman, made a pitch to the board to open a chain of
supermarkets across the country. The UK's first supermarket under the new Premier
Supermarkets brand opened in Streatham, South London,
taking ten times as much per week
as the average British general store of the time. Other chains caught on, and after Galvani lost
out to Tesco's Jack Cohen in 1960 to buy the 212 Irwin's chain, the sector underwent a large
amount of consolidation, resulting in 'the big four' dominant UK retailers of today: Tesco, Asda
(owned by Wal-Mart), Sainsbury's and Morrisons.
In the 1950s, supermarkets frequently issued trading stamps as incentives to customers. Today,
most chains issue store-specific "membership cards," "club cards," or "loyalty cards". These
typically enable the card holder to receive special members-only discounts on certain items when
the credit card-like device is scanned at check-out.
[citation needed]
Sales of selected data generated by
clubcards is becoming a significant revenue stream for some supermarkets.
Traditional supermarkets in many countries face intense competition from discount retailers such
as Wal-Mart, and Tesco in the UK, which typically are non-union and operate with better buying
power. Other competition exists from warehouse clubs such as Costco that offer savings to
customers buying in bulk quantities. Superstores, such as those operated by Wal-Mart and Asda,
often offer a wide range of goods and services in addition to foods. The proliferation of such
warehouse and superstores has contributed to the continuing disappearance of smaller, local
grocery stores; increased dependence on the automobile; suburban sprawl because of the
necessity for large floorspace and increased vehicular traffic. Some critics consider the chains'
common practice of selling loss leaders to be anti-competitive. They are also wary of the
negotiating power that large, often multinational retailers have with suppliers around the
[citation needed]

Growth in developing countries
There has been a rapid transformation of the food retail sector in developing countries, beginning
in the 1990s. This applies particularly to Latin America, South-East Asia, China and South
Africa. However, growth is being witnessed in nearly all countries. With growth, has come
considerable competition and some amount of consolidation.
The growth has been driven by
increasing affluence and the rise of a middle class; the entry of women into the workforce; with a
consequent incentive to seek out easy-to-prepare foods; the growth in the use of refrigerators,
making it possible to shop weekly instead of daily; and the growth in car ownership, facilitating
journeys to distant stores and purchases of large quantities of goods. The opportunities presented
by this potential have encouraged several European companies to invest in these markets (mainly
in Asia) and American companies to invest in Latin America and China. Local companies also
entered the market.
Initial development of supermarkets has now been followed by
hypermarket growth. In addition there were investments by companies such as Makro and Metro
in large-scale Cash-and-Carry operations.
While the growth in sales of processed foods in these countries has been much more rapid than
the growth in fresh food sales, the imperative nature of supermarkets to achieve economies of
scale in purchasing, means that the expansion of supermarkets in these countries has important
repercussions for small farmers, particularly those growing perishable crops. New supply chains
have developed involving cluster formation; development of specialized wholesalers; leading
farmers organizing supply; and farmer associations or cooperatives.
In some cases
supermarkets have organized their own procurement from small farmers; in others wholesale
markets have adapted to meet supermarket needs.

Typical supermarket merchandise

Inside an Asda supermarket in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Sainsbury's supermarket front end

Fruit on display in a supermarket in Japan.

Inside a Serbian supermarket
Larger supermarkets in North America and in Europe typically sell a great number of items
among many brands, sizes and varieties, including:
Alcoholic beverages (as state/provincial and/or local laws allow)
Baby foods and baby-care products such as disposable diapers
Breads and bakery products (many stores may have a bakery on site that offers specialty
and dessert items)
Books, newspapers, and magazines, including supermarket tabloids
Bulk dried foods such as legumes, flour, rice, etc. (typically available for self-service)
Canned goods and dried cereals
CDs, Audio cassettes, DVDs, and videos (including video rentals)
Cigarettes and other tobacco products (as country/state/provincial and/or local laws
Confections and candies
Dairy products and eggs
Delicatessen foods (ready-to-eat)
Diet foods
Electrical products such as light bulbs, extension cords, etc.
Feminine hygiene products
Financial services and products such as mortgages, credit cards, savings accounts, wire
transfers, etc. (typically offered in-store by a partnering bank or other financial
Frozen foods and crushed ice
Fresh produce, fruits and vegetables
Greeting cards
House-cleaning products
Housewares, Dishware and cooking utensils, etc. (typically limited)
Laundry products such as detergents, fabric softeners, etc.
Lottery tickets (where operational and legal)
Luggage items (typically limited)
Meats, fish and seafoods (some stores may offer live fish and seafood items from
aquarium tanks)
Medicines and first aid items (primarily over-the-counter drugs, although many
supermarkets also have an on-site pharmacy) (as country/state/provincial and/or local
laws allow)
Nonalcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, juices, bottled water, etc. (some stores may
have a juice bar that prepares ready-to-drink freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, etc.)
Personal hygiene and grooming products
Pet foods and products
Seasonal items and decorations
Snack foods
Tea and Coffee (some stores may have a commercial-style grinder, typically available for
self-service, and/or a staffed coffee bar that prepares ready-to-drink coffee and tea
Toys and novelties
In some countries, the range of supermarket merchandise is more strictly focused on food
products, although the range of goods for sale is expanding in many locations as typical store
sizes continue to increase globally.
Typical store architecture

A Kroger store, Kroger of the Villages, in Hedwig Village, Texas (Greater Houston)
While branding and store advertising will differ from company to company, the layout of a
supermarket remains virtually unchanged. Although big companies spend time giving consumers
a pleasant shopping experience, the design of a supermarket is directly connected to the in-store
marketing that supermarkets must conduct in order to get shoppers to spend more money while
Every aspect of the store is mapped out and attention is paid to colour, wording and even surface
texture. The overall layout of a supermarket is a visual merchandising project that plays a major
role in retailing. Stores can creatively use a layout to alter customers perceptions of the
atmosphere. Alternatively, they can enhance the stores atmospherics through visual
communications (signs and graphics), lighting, colours, and even scents.
For example, to give
a sense of the supermarket being healthy, fresh produce is deliberately located at the front of the
store. In terms of bakery items, supermarkets usually dedicate 30 to 40 feet of store space to the
bread aisle.

Supermarkets are designed to "give each product section a sense of individual difference and this
is evident in the design of what are called the anchor departments; fresh produce, dairy,
delicatessen, meat and the bakery".
Each section has different floor coverings, style, lighting
and sometimes even individual services counters to allow shoppers to feel as if there are a
number of markets within this one supermarket.

Exterior of a supermarket in Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia.
Marketers use well researched techniques to try to control purchasing behaviour. The layout of a
supermarket is considered by some to consist of a few rules of thumb and three layout
The high-draw products are placed in separate areas of the store to keep drawing
the consumer through the store. High impulse and high margin products are placed in the most
predominant areas to grab attention. Power products are placed on both sides of the aisle to
create increased product awareness, and end caps are used to receive high exposure of a certain
product whether on special, promotion or in a campaign, or a new line.
The first principle of layout is circulation. Circulation is created by arranging product so the
supermarket can control the traffic flow of the consumer. Along this path there will be high-
draw, high-impulse items that will influence the consumer to purchase which he or she did not
intend. Service areas such as rest rooms are placed in a location which draws the consumer past
certain products to create extra buys. Necessity items such as bread and milk are found at the rear
of the store to increase the start of circulation. Cashiers' desks are placed in a position to promote
circulation. The entrance will be on the right-hand side because research has shown that
consumers who travel in a counter-clockwise direction spend more.

The second principle of layout is coordination. Coordination is the organised arrangement of
product that promotes sales. Products such as fast-selling and slow-selling lines are placed in
strategic positions in aid of the overall sales plan. Managers sometimes place different items in
fast-selling places to increase turnover or to promote a new line.
The third principle is consumer convenience. The layout of a supermarket is designed to create a
high degree of convenience to the consumer to make the shopping experience pleasant. This is
done through the character of merchandising and product placement. There are many different
ideas and theories in relation to layout and how product layout can influence the purchases made.
One theory suggests that certain products are placed together or near one another that are of a
similar or complementary nature to increase the average customer spend.
This strategy is used
by retailers to create cross-category sales similarity. In other words, the toothpaste is next to or
adjacent the tooth brushes and the tea and coffee are down the same isle as the sweet biscuits.
These products complement one another and placing them near is one way marketers try to
increase purchases.

Consumer psychologists suggest that most buyers tend to enter the store and shop to their right
This suggests that supermarket marketers should use this theory to their advantage by
placing their temporary displays of products on the right-hand side to entice you to make an
unplanned purchase. Furthermore, aisle ends are extremely popular with product manufacturers,
who pay top dollar to have their products located there.
These aisle ends are used to lure
customers into making a snap purchase and to also entice them to shop down the aisle. The most
obvious place supermarket layout has an impact on consumers is at the checkout. Small displays
of chocolates, magazines and drinks are located at each checkout to tempt shoppers while they
wait to be served.


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this
article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged
and removed. (July 2010)
Supermarket, in general, tend to narrow the choices of fruits and vegetables by stocking
only varieties with long storage lives.
Supermarkets often generate a lot of food waste.
Supermarkets can generally retail at lower prices than traditional corner shops and
markets due to higher volume throughput. This has led to small businesses losing
customers and closing in many areas, which can be seen as an adverse effect on the local

In the United States, major-brand supermarkets often demand slotting fees from suppliers
in exchange for premium shelf space and/or better positioning (such as at eye-level, on
the checkout aisle or at a shelf's "end cap"). This extra supplier cost (up to $30,000 per
brand for a chain for each individual SKU) may be reflected in the cost of the products
offered. Some critics have questioned the ethical and legal propriety of slotting fee
payments and their effect on smaller suppliers.

Britains supermarkets have been accused of squeezing prices to farmers, forcing small
shops out of business, and often favouring imports over British produce.

In New Zealand, supermarkets have been accused of buying fresh produce from growers
at low prices and selling with ridiculously high mark-ups, sometimes as high as 500%.