Handbook on the Economics of Retailing and Distribution
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Handbook on the Economics of Retailing and Distribution

Edited by Emek Basker

This Handbook explores and critically examines current research in economics and marketing science on key economic issues in retailing and distribution. Providing a rich perspective for the discussion of public policy, contributions from several disciplines and continents range from the history of chains and the impact of multinational retailers on international trade patterns; to the US merger policy in the retail context, the rise of the Internet and consumer-to-consumer sales. This state-of-the-art Handbook is an essential reference for students and academics of economics and marketing science and offers outsiders valuable perspectives on operations research, data analytics, geography, and sociology.
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Chapter 15: The evolution of the supermarket industry: from A & P to Walmart

Paul B. Ellickson


This chapter identifies important economic features of the supermarket industry and highlights their connection to market structure and economic policy. Starting with a historical overview the industry’s evolution, I then discuss the broad determinants of market structure and review several empirical studies that quantify their importance. I go on to consider the various empirical studies that quantify the extent to which supermarket firms exploit this structure to prevent entry or maintain high margins. Finally, I discuss the growing literature on the competitive impact of Walmart, emphasizing the connection to market structure and the mechanisms of supermarket competition.

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