From Supermarkets to Supercenters: Employment Shifts to the One-Stop Shop: Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters Have Expanded into Market Segments Long Dominated by Department Stores and Supermarkets, Eroding Employment and Sales in These Giants of Retail Trade; the Increasing Dominance of Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters Will Force Yet More Structural Changes upon the Industry
Strople, Michael H., Monthly Labor Review
Dramatic changes in product delivery channels are reshaping the landscape of retail trade. Warehouse stores and supercenters are quickly moving into market segments once dominated by department stores and supermarkets. The supercenter is seen as a one-stop, low-price shop for many consumers' needs--from apple pie, to blue jeans, to tires. Over the past several years, this changing dynamic has become more evident not only anecdotally, but also through various Federal statistics. This article reviews recent trends in employment, sales, and establishment data for warehouse clubs and supercenters, department stores, and food and beverage stores. The analysis presented looks at the increasing dominance of supercenters and its effect on employment in the more traditional retailers: food stores and department stores.
Warehouse clubs and supercenters
Warehouse clubs originated in the United States with the 1976 opening of Price Club in San Diego, California? Initially, the clubs offered a wide selection of merchandise at discounted prices to other establishments for resale; essentially, the clubs functioned as a wholesaler. Eventually, the clubs expanded into retail by opening their doors to select "members," or customers who had paid a membership fee. While initially the concept was a money loser, firms were turning a profit by the early 1980s. With the success of Price Club, many more firms joined this niche, making warehouse clubs "the fastest growing format in U.S. retailing during the decade of the 1980s." (2)
The supercenter is an offshoot of the hypermarket concept, which has existed in Europe since the 1960s. Indeed, the second-largest retailer in the world, France's Carrefour, is a large owner of hypermarkets. (3) In 1984, through a partnership of Euromarche and Super Value, hypermarkets first found their way to the United States with the opening of a Biggs in the Cincinnati suburbs. (4) Today's U.S. supercenters have evolved from the European hypermarket model. Both are essentially the combination of a supermarket and a general merchandise store; however, the supercenter has a greater selection of general merchandise products? Unlike warehouse clubs, supercenters are open to the general public and have no special eligibility requirements for customers to shop there.
Despite the relative newness of warehouse clubs and supercenters in the United States, they are firmly entrenched in the retail market. As warehouse stores and supercenters continue to expand, they compete with retailers across almost all retail markets. The increased competition forces chains to adapt and can lead to downsizing, a phenomenon that has drawn great media attention. The overall effect of the increased competition on employment and sales is examined in the remainder of this article.
Shifts in employment
Employment in retail trade, as measured by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, accounts for about 1 in 8 private payroll jobs. (6) Retail trade and total private employment shared similar characteristics leading into and coming out of the 2001 recession. Both employment series peaked in December 2000 and then declined for approximately 30 months, eventually reaching a trough in 2003 (retail trade in June and total private employment in July). From peak to trough, the private sector lost almost 3.5 million jobs, with retail trade accounting for nearly half a million of them. Since reaching their respective employment troughs, retail trade and the private sector as a whole have experienced similarly mild recoveries: private employment did not fully recover until June 2005, nearly 2 years after reaching an employment trough, and retail trade has yet to fully recover the jobs lost. (See chart 1.)
Within retail trade, food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores together account for more than 1 in 3 jobs, so employment trends in these two industries can have profound effects on the industry as a whole. (7) Employment in food and beverage stores has declined steadily since reaching a peak in April 2000, falling by 164,600, or more than 5 percent. By contrast, employment in general merchandise stores has expanded. From an employment trough in October 2002 to May 2005, the industry added 78,700 workers, nearly a 3-percent increase. Notably, the industry has fully recovered the jobs lost during its previous employment downturn (December 2000 to October 2002), and employment is currently expanding. (See chart 2.)
With the implementation of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in June 2003, (8) the CES program was able to begin publishing employment, hours, and earnings estimates for warehouse clubs and supercenters. These estimates allow for a more detailed analysis of employment trends within general merchandise stores. Under NAICS, general merchandise stores are broken down into two main categories: department stores and other general merchandise stores. The category of other general merchandise stores contains the warehouse clubs and supercenters industry (supercenters) and a residual: all other general merchandise stores. (9) Department stores are split into two detailed categories: department stores, except discount (that is, the category consists of traditional department stores); and discount department stores (discounters). (10)
Since reaching an employment peak in March 2001, traditional department stores have shed over 19 percent of their …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: From Supermarkets to Supercenters: Employment Shifts to the One-Stop Shop: Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters Have Expanded into Market Segments Long Dominated by Department Stores and Supermarkets, Eroding Employment and Sales in These Giants of Retail Trade; the Increasing Dominance of Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters Will Force Yet More Structural Changes upon the Industry. Contributors: Strople, Michael H. - Author. Journal title: Monthly Labor Review. Volume: 129. Issue: 2 Publication date: February 2006. Page number: 39+. © 1999 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.