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The consolidation wave in U.S. food retailing: A European perspective


  • Neil Wrigley

    (Department of Geography, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK., E-mail:


This article assesses, from the perspective of a European academic, the intense wave of acquisition and merger driven consolidation that swept through the U.S. food retail industry during the late 1990s. It reviews the characteristics and causes of that consolidation wave, placing emphasis on the regulatory history of the industry, the consequences of its financial reengineering during the 1980s, and the link between Wal-Mart's entry into the industry and the consolidation wave. The article then assesses the extent to which a shift in regulatory policy and practice by the Federal Trade Commission at the very end of the decade may have altered the pattern and scale of consolidation in the industry. Finally, it considers the future landscape of U.S. food retail consolidation, debating the consequences for the consolidation process of the period of FTC regulatory tightening during 1999|2000 and the likely implications of a Bush administration appointee heading the FTC [EconLit Classifications: L810, L190, G340, L400]. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Wrigley, 2001. "The consolidation wave in U.S. food retailing: A European perspective," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(4), pages 489-513.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:agribz:v:17:y:2001:i:4:p:489-513 DOI: 10.1002/agr.1031

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. T Marsden & M Harrison & A Flynn, 1998. "Creating Competitive Space: Exploring the Social and Political Maintenance of Retail Power," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 30(3), pages 481-498, March.
    2. T Marsden & M Harrison & A Flynn, 1998. "Creating competitive space: exploring the social and political maintenance of retail power," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(3), pages 481-498, March.
    3. Cotterill, Ronald W., 1999. "Continuing Concentration in the U.S.: Strategic Challenges to an Unstable Status Quo," Research Reports 25165, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
    4. Ronald W. Cotterill, 1999. "Continuing Concentration in Food Industries Globally: Strategic Challenges to an Unstable Status Quo," Food Marketing Policy Center Research Reports 049, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
    5. Neil Wrigley, 1997. "Foreign retail capital on the battlefields of Connecticut: competition regulation at the local scale and its implications," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 29(7), pages 1141-1152, July.
    6. Chevalier, Judith A, 1995. "Capital Structure and Product-Market Competition: Empirical Evidence from the Supermarket Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 415-435, June.
    7. Denis, David J., 1994. "Organizational form and the consequences of highly leveraged transactions: Kroger's recapitalization and Safeway's LBO," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 193-224, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rebecca Dunning & J. Bloom & Nancy Creamer, 2015. "The local food movement, public-private partnerships, and food system resiliency," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(4), pages 661-670, December.
    2. Rachel A. Schwartz & Thomas A. Lyson, 2007. "Retail relations: an interlocking directorate analysis of food retailing corporations in the United States," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(4), pages 489-498, December.
    3. Tomomichi Mizuno, 2009. "Divisionalization And Horizontal Mergers In A Vertical Relationship," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 77(3), pages 317-336, June.
    4. Steffen Ziss, 2005. "Horizontal Mergers and Successive Oligopoly," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 99-114, June.

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