A big-box store
, or megastore
) is a physically large retail establishment, usually part of a chain
of stores. The term sometimes also refers, by extension, to the company that operates the store.
, a general merchandise big-box store
Commercially, big-box stores can be broken down into two categories: general merchandise (examples include Walmart
, and Target
), and specialty stores (such as Home Depot
, Barnes & Noble
, or Best Buy
), which specialize in goods within a specific range, such as hardware
, or consumer electronics
, respectively. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many traditional retailers and supermarket chains that typically operate in smaller buildings, such as Tesco
, opened stores in the big-box-store format in an effort to compete with big-box chains, which are expanding internationally as their home markets reach maturity.
The store may sell general dry goods
, in which case it is a general merchandise retailer (however, traditional department stores
, as the predecessor format, are generally not classified as "big box"), or may be limited to a particular specialty (such establishments are often called "category killers
"), or may also sell groceries, in which case some countries (mostly in Europe
) use the term hypermarket
. In the U.S., there is no specific term for general merchandisers who also sell groceries. Both Target and Walmart offer groceries in most branches in the U.S.
Big-box stores are often clustered in shopping centers, which are typically called retail parks
in the United Kingdom. In the United States, when they range in size from 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2
) to 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2
), they are often referred to as power centers
Big-box stores in various countries
Interior of Mitre 10 MEGA, a big-box hardware store in Australia
The first company in Australia to use the big-box model was IKEA
beginning operation in Australia in 1975. Bunnings Warehouse
followed in 1995 and Mitre 10 Australia
adopted the model with the "Mitre 10 Mega" stores first opening at Beenleigh, Queensland
in 2004. Costco
has since expanded across Australia since opening its first store in 2009.
There are currently more than 300 power centers, which usually contain multiple big-box stores, located throughout Canada.
Most large grocery stores in China are of the big-box variety, selling big screen TVs, computers, mobile phones, bicycles, and clothing. Many foreign names appear, such as Carrefour
, Lotte Mart
, and Walmart
, as well as dozens of Chinese chains. Most stores are three stories with moving sidewalk-style escalators. Some stores are so large as to have 60 checkout terminals and their own fleet of buses to bring customers to the store at no charge. Note: This does not include big-box stores in the Republic of China
Many configurations exist: the hypermarket
that sells many kinds of goods under one roof (like French chains Carrefour
, and E.Leclerc
), most of which are integrated within a shopping mall
; the supermarket
that is a smaller version of a hypermarket; the market located in city centres; the department store
, which first appeared in Paris, then opened in other parts of the world; the "category killer" superstore that mainly sells goods in a particular domain (automotive, electronics, home furniture, etc.); and the warehouse store
A superstore in Hong Kong
To contend against Carrefour
opened the first superstore in 1996 based on the concept of a wet market
. Most superstores in Hong Kong emphasizes one-stop shopping, such as providing car park services. Today, PARKnSHOP has more than 50 superstores and megastores, making it the largest superstore network in Hong Kong
. The first Wellcome
superstore opened in 2000 and it has only 17 superstores. In addition, CRC
has four superstores in Hong Kong.
Because Hong Kong is a very densely populated city, the sizes of superstores are considerably smaller than those in other countries. Some superstores are running at deficit, such as Chelsea Heights
which therefore has stopped selling fresh fish
. Furthermore, some PARKnSHOP superstores and megastores, such as Fortress World
, belong to the same corporation, Hutchison Whampoa
has been going through a retail revolution since the late 1990s, following the introduction of Big Bazaar
in 2001. However, even before that, large retail stores were not uncommon in India. Spencer's, a popular hypermart, traces its history as far back as 1863. Likewise Saravana Stores
operating as a large independent showroom format since 1969, continue to grow in a mammoth manner. Saravana Stores operating format is said to be the inspiration for Big Bazaar's Kishore Biyani.
Similarly, conglomerates, such as Raheja's, Future Group, Bharti, Godrej, Reliance, and TATA, have over the last decade ventured into large-format retail chains. However, most of the stores opened in large malls and not as independent big-box format stores, even though small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still account for the majority of the daily consumer transaction needs. However, the most successful consumer retail chain that took the market and penetrated also to tier 2 and tier 3 cities was D Mart, owned by Avenue Supermarkets Limited.
An attempt was made to allow international large format retailers such as Walmart into the country. However, it was successfully opposed by small retailers citing job elimination due to increased efficiency and lowered prices due to fewer losses and lower costs.
Republic of Ireland
, large merchandise stores in the style of U.S. superstores were not a part of the retail sector until the late 20th century. Dunnes Stores have traditionally had a supermarket-plus-household-and-clothes model and now have some large stores. Tesco Ireland
now runs upwards of 19 hypermarkets across the country.
The big-box phenomenon hit New Zealand
in the late 1980s, with the introduction of Kmart Australia
and later the "Warehouse
" superstore, a local company. Mitre 10 New Zealand opened their first Mega in 2004 at Hastings, New Zealand
six months before the Australian Mega store; it opened to great success with 20 more stores opening within two years. Australian-owned Bunnings Warehouse opened its first store in New Zealand in 2006.
In the United Kingdom
membership-only warehouse club stores have been around for 4 decades. General merchandise shops along the lines of U.S. superstores are not a large part of the retail sector, but this has been changing in recent years, with the creation of extra-large supermarkets such as Tesco
selling a broader range of non-food goods, typically in out-of-town shopping centres or retail parks. As in the US, such large shops are sometimes called anchor tenants
. The growth of online retail and budget retail has led to these chains moving away from the large out-of-town supermarkets which have waned in popularity.
The term "big-box store" is not used in the UK. "Superstore" is sometimes used, but with a slightly different meaning: on road signs it means "large supermarket"; in self-service shop names it denotes an outlet larger than that particular chain's usual size.
Big-box general merchandise retailers such as Target
are similar to the global concept of a hypermarket
, although they do not always have a grocery section, and the term "hypermarket" is not in common use in the United States. "Discount store", "megastore", and "superstore" are sometimes used in addition to the industry term "general merchandise retailer".
The category has its origins with Walmart, Kmart and Meijer
in the 1960s, which were called "discount stores
" — still an industry term for this type of store — and which between the 1960s and 1980s started to open larger-format stores called "megastores".
Typical architectural characteristics
- Large, free-standing, cuboid, generally single-floor structure built on a concrete slab. The flat roof and ceiling trusses are generally made of steel, and the walls are concrete block clad in metal or masonry siding.
- The structure typically sits in the middle of a large, paved parking lot. The exterior is designed primarily for access by motor vehicles, rather than by pedestrians.
- Floor space several times greater than traditional retailers in the sector, providing for a large amount of merchandise; in North America, generally more than 50,000 square feet (4650 m2), sometimes approaching 200,000 square feet (18,600 m2), though varying by sector and market. In countries where rentable space is at a premium, such as the United Kingdom, the relevant numbers are smaller and stores are more likely to have two or more floors.
Big-box development has at times been opposed by labor unions because the employees of such stores are usually not unionized. Unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 and the Joint Labor Management Committee of the Retail Food Industry have expressed concern about the grocery market because stores such as Kmart
, and Walmart
now sell groceries.
Unions and cities are attempting to use land-use ordinances to restrict these businesses.
Because it is generally inaccessible to pedestrians and often can only be reached by motor vehicles, the big-box store has been criticized as unsustainable
and a failure of urban planning
- ^ CQ Researcher: Big-Box Stores. September 10, 2004.
- ^ ""U.S. Shopping-Center Classification and Characteristics", International Council of Shopping Centers" (PDF).
- ^ Joseph, Lawrence (May 2013). "An Empirical Mega-Analysis of Retail Locations: Value Platforms, Real-Estate Maturity, and Deployment Decisions". Arizona State University. S2CID 168399700.
- ^ "| Ad Age". adage.com. March 19, 2012.
- ^ Kelbaugh, Douglas (2002). Repairing the American Metropolis. USA: University of Washington Press. p. 165. ISBN 0295982047.
- ^ "'BIG-BOX' RETAILERS UNDER FIRE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION OF TWO WAL-MARTS FOUGHT BY GROCERY UNIONS". thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- ^ Dunham-Jones, Ellen (2011). Retrofitting Suburbia. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons. p. 51. ISBN 978-1118027677.
- ^ Yin, Jordan (2012). Urban Planning For Dummies. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons. p. 220. ISBN 978-1118101681.
Last edited on 26 May 2021, at 09:44
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.