, a large form of the traditional grocery store, is a self-service shop
offering a wide variety of food and household products, organized into aisles. It is larger and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store, but is smaller and more limited in the range of merchandise than a hypermarket or big-box market.
The supermarket typically comprises meat, fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods aisles, along with shelf space reserved for canned and packaged goods as well as for various non-food items such as kitchenware, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies. Some supermarkets also sell a variety of other household products that are consumed regularly, such as new condoms (where permitted), medicine
, and clothes, and some stores
sell a much wider range of non-food products: DVDs, sporting equipment, board games, and seasonal items (e.g., Christmas
wrapping paper in December).
The traditional supermarket occupies a large amount of floor
space, usually on a single level. It is usually situated
near a residential area in order to be convenient
to consumers. The basic appeal is the availability
of a broad selection of goods under a single roof, at relatively low prices. Other advantages include ease of parking
and frequently the convenience
of shopping hours that extend into the evening or even 24 hours of day. Supermarkets usually allocate
large budgets to advertising, typically through newspapers
. They also present elaborate in-shop displays of products. The shops are usually part of corporate chains that own or control (sometimes by franchise
) other supermarkets located nearby—even transnationally—thus increasing opportunities for economies of scale.
Supermarkets typically are supplied by the distribution centres of their parent companies, usually in the largest city in the area. Supermarkets usually offer products at relatively low prices by using their buying power to buy goods from manufacturers at lower prices than smaller stores can. They also minimise financing costs by paying for goods at least 30 days after receipt
and some extract
credit terms of 90 days or more from vendors. Certain products (typically staple
foods such as bread, milk and sugar) are very occasionally sold as loss leaders, that is, with negative profit margins so as to attract shoppers to their store. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of this tactic. To maintain a profit, supermarkets make up for the lower margins by a higher overall volume of sales, and with the sale of higher-margin items bought by the intended higher volume of shoppers. Customers usually shop by placing their selected merchandise into shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets (self-service) and pay for the merchandise at the check-out
. At present, many supermarket chains are attempting to further reduce labor costs by shifting to self-service check-out machines, where a single employee can oversee a group of four or five machines at once, assisting multiple customers at a time.
A larger full-service supermarket combined with a department store
is sometimes known as a hypermarket. Other services offered at some supermarkets may include those of banks, cafés, childcare centres/creches, Insurance(and other financial services
), Mobile Phone services, photo processing, video rentals, pharmacies and/or petrol stations.