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

We offer a theory for the complementarity between the size of a retail chain and the scope of its business to explain the growth of general-merchandise firms and the expansion of the "superstore" format. The complementarity results from an interaction of the retailer's economies of scale and consumer gains from "one-stop shopping." We find support for our model in micro data from the Census of Retail Trade for 1977-2002. Retail chains with more stores carry more distinct product lines and as retail chains grow they add both stores and product lines. On average, we find that a chain adds one product line, such as shoes, computers, or jewelry, to an existing store with every new store it opens. For the average large chain, adding a new product line throughout the chain is correlated with adding 400 new stores, competing in over 8,000 new markets and increasing its competitive pressure in more than 10,000 additional markets.

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File URL: http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2008/WP0809_basker.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0809.

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Length: 16 pgs.
Date of creation: 20 Aug 2008
Date of revision: 30 Sep 2010
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economics and Management Strategy 2012
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0809
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Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/

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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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
  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. Kyle Bagwell, 1993. "Dynamic Retail Price and Investment Competition," Discussion Papers 1115, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Bliss, Christopher, 1988. "A Theory of Retail Pricing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 375-91, June.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Thomas W. Ross, 1983. "Winners and Losers under the Robinson-Patman Act," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 30, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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