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Supersize It: The Growth of Retail Chains and the Rise of the “Big‐Box” Store

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  • Emek Basker
  • Shawn Klimek
  • Pham Hoang Van

Abstract

This paper documents and explains the recent rise of “big‐box” general merchandisers. Data from the Census of Retail Trade for 1977–2007 show that general‐merchandise chains grew much faster than specialist retail chains, and that general merchandisers that added the most stores also made the biggest increases to their product offerings. We explain these facts with a stylized model in which a retailer’s scale economies interact with consumer gains from one‐stop shopping to generate a complementarity between a retailer’s scale and scope.

Suggested Citation

  • Emek Basker & Shawn Klimek & Pham Hoang Van, 2012. "Supersize It: The Growth of Retail Chains and the Rise of the “Big‐Box” Store," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 541-582, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:21:y:2012:i:3:p:541-582
    DOI: j.1530-9134.2012.00339.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-9134.2012.00339.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Meinen, Philipp & Raff, Horst, 2018. "International trade and retail market performance and structure: Theory and empirical evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 99-114.
    2. Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2015. "Retailing and international trade: A survey of the literature," Economics Working Papers 2015-02, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    3. Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn Shaw, 2016. "Serial Entrepreneurship: Learning by Doing?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S2), pages 217-254.
    4. Chen, Shih-Fen S. & Liaw, Chya-Yi E., 2020. "The coincidence of private branding and foreign sourcing: Is there a causality direction?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 268-276.
    5. Florin Maican & Matilda Orth, 2017. "Productivity Dynamics and the Role of ‘Big-Box’ Entrants in Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 397-438, June.
    6. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Shawn Klimek & CJ Krizan & Scott Ohlmacher, 2015. "The Evolution of National Retail Chains: How We Got Here," Working Papers 15-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    7. Emek Basker, 2012. "Raising the Barcode Scanner: Technology and Productivity in the Retail Sector," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 1-27, July.
    8. Schuetz, Jenny, 2015. "Why are Walmart and Target Next-Door neighbors?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 38-48.
    9. Jason R. Blevins & Ahmed Khwaja & Nathan Yang, 2018. "Firm Expansion, Size Spillovers, and Market Dominance in Retail Chain Dynamics," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(9), pages 4070-4093.
    10. Emek Basker & Timothy Simcoe, 2021. "Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1252-1286.
    11. Maican, Florin & Orth, Matilda, 2021. "Determinants of economies of scope in retail," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    12. Basker, Emek & Vickers, Chris & Ziebarth, Nicolas L., 2018. "Competition, productivity, and survival of grocery stores in the Great Depression," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 282-315.
    13. Bjørn Olav Johansen & Tore Nilssen, 2016. "The Economics of Retailing Formats: Competition Versus Bargaining," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 109-134, March.
    14. Brianna Cardiff-Hicks & Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn Shaw, 2015. "Do Large Modern Retailers Pay Premium Wages?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 68(3), pages 633-665, May.
    15. Emek Basker, 2015. "Change at the Checkout: Tracing the Impact of a Process Innovation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 339-370, June.
    16. Minjee Kim & Tingyu Zhou, 2021. "Does Restricting the Entry of Formula Businesses Help Mom-and-Pop Stores? The Case of Small American Towns With Unique Community Character," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 35(2), pages 157-173, May.
    17. Pozzi, Andrea & Schivardi, Fabiano, 2015. "Entry Regulation in Retail Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 10836, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Emlinger, Charlotte & Poncet, Sandra, 2018. "With a little help from my friends: Multinational retailers and China's consumer market penetration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1-12.
    19. Ollinger, Michael E. & Ver Ploeg, Shelly & Dicken, Christopher W., 2018. "The Impact of Super Center Stores on the Availability of SNAP-approved stores," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274488, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Francine Lafontaine & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2020. "The Recent Evolution of Physical Retail Markets: Online Retailing, Big Box Stores, and the Rise of Restaurants," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Gian-Claudia Sciara & Kristin Lovejoy & Susan Handy, 2018. "The Impacts of Big Box Retail on Downtown: A Case Study of Target in Davis (CA)," Journal of the American Planning Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 84(1), pages 45-60, January.

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