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Supermarket

A supermarket is a store that sells a wide variety of food. A supermarket is larger in size and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store. Most supermarkets also sell a variety of other household products that are consumed regularly, such as alcohol (where permitted), household cleaning products, medicine, clothes, and some sell a much wider range of non-food products. Supermarkets are often part of a chain that owns or controls (sometimes by franchise) other supermarkets located in the same or other towns; this increases the opportunities for economies of scale. In the United States, supermarket chains are often supplied from the distribution centers of a larger business.

Supermarkets usually offer products at low prices by reducing margins. Certain products (typically staples such as bread, milk and sugar) are often sold as loss leaders, that is, with negative margins. To maintain a profit, supermarkets attempt to make up for the low margins with a high overall volume of sales, and with sales of higher-margin items. Customers usually shop by putting their products into shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets (self-service) and pay for the products at the check-out. At present, many supermarket chains are trying to reduce labour costs further by shifting to self-service check-out machines, where a group of four or five machines is supervised by a single assistant.

A larger full-service supermarket combined with a department store is sometimes known as a hypermarket. Other services that supermarkets may have include cafés, creches, photo development, pharmacies, and/or gas stations.

 

History of supermarkets

Early retailers did not trust their customers. In many stores, all products had to be fetched by an assistant from high shelves on one side of a counter while the customers stood on the other side and pointed to what they wanted. Also, many foods did not come in the individually wrapped consumer-size packages taken for granted today, so a clerk had to measure out the precise amount desired by the consumer. These practices were obviously labor-intensive and therefore quite expensive.

 


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