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Supersize It: The Growth of Retail Chains and the Rise of the "Big Box" Retail Format

  • Emek Basker
  • Shawn Klimek
  • Pham Hoang Van

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.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 08-23r.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision: Sep 2011
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:08-23r
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  1. Roger Betancourt & David Gautschi, 1990. "Demand Complementarities, Household Production, and Retail Assortments," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(2), pages 146-161.
  2. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C. J. Krizan, 2006. "Market Selection, Reallocation, and Restructuring in the U.S. Retail Trade Sector in the 1990s," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 748-758, November.
  3. Bliss, Christopher, 1988. "A Theory of Retail Pricing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 375-91, June.
  4. Emek Basker & Michael Noel, 2009. "The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry into the Supermarket Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 977-1009, December.
  5. Emek Basker & Pham Hoang Van, 2007. "Wal-Mart as Catalyst to U.S.-China Trade," Working Papers 0710, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  6. Ross, Thomas W, 1984. "Winners and Losers under the Robinson-Patman Act," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 243-71, October.
  7. Kyle Bagwell, 1993. "Dynamic Retail Price and Investment Competition," Discussion Papers 1115, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Holmes, Thomas J, 2001. "Bar Codes Lead to Frequent Deliveries and Superstores," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 708-25, Winter.
  9. Mark Doms & Ron Jarmin & Shawn Klimek, 2004. "Information technology investment and firm performance in US retail trade," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(7), pages 595-613.
  10. Jonathan Beck & Michal Grajek & Christian Wey, 2007. "Estimating level effects in diffusion of a new technology: Barcode scanning at the checkout counter," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-07-002, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
  11. Emek Basker, 2003. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor-Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," Labor and Demography 0303002, EconWPA, revised 11 Mar 2005.
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