These shops carry a wide range of goods which are sold in specialist departments. For example, one usually finds departments specializing in furniture, bedding, carpets, electrical goods, food and so on. Department stores also offer many services, such as catering facilities, banking, hair-dressing, and booking agencies for theatre tickets and holidays.The variety of goods and services available offers customers the attractive prospect of doing most of their shopping in one building.
A supermarket is defined as a self-service food store with a sales area in excess of 2000 square feet. In this of store, the techniques of self service and self selection have enabled retailers to obtain impressive gains in productivity.
Both the number and the average size of supermarkets have been increasing in recent years. Many of the larger ones, such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose, are controlled by multiples , and many supermarkets are owned by the cooperative societies.
Supermarkets, however, are now much more than grocery shops, because they have diversified into wines and spirits, electrical goods, clothing. DIY materials and a wide range of household goods. This has led to the development of the superstore, which is defined as a supermarket with a sales area in excess of 25 000 squere feets, in which food might occupy no more than half the selling space.
A further development of the supermarket is the hypermarket, which is defined as a singl- storey retail outlet with at least 50 000 squere feet of selling space.These very large self-service stores are usually located of towns, where adequate car-parking facilities can be provided.
Discount stores are large “ retail warehouses”. They usually occupy large single-storey premises away from city centres and sell on a “ cash and carry “ dasis.They deal in durable consumer goods, many of them specializing in electrical appliances. By providing very little in the way of personal service they are able to operate with low labour costs. Their premises are relatively cheap to build, equip and maintain compared with the large city-centre stores.
5. Mail-order houses
Mail-order firms sell a range of goods very similar to those founding department stores. All transactions are carried out by post. Local agents, working on a part-time basis, use colorful and attractive catalogues to obtain ofders which can be purchased by installments. Agents are paid by commission; that is, they receive a certain percentage of the value of the orders they obtain . Customers are offered the convenience of’’ shopping in their own homes’. Although postal distribution is relatively expensive, mail-order firms obtain economies of scale by bulk buying, and they obtain the wholesaler’s and retailer’s profit margins. They use out-of-town warehouses, which are normally cheaper to buy or rent and have lower rates than premises in city centres.
The changing structure of retailing
Over past two decades three has been something of a revolution in retailing. The most obvious changes have been the increasing importance of the multiples and the increase in size and number of the supermarkets. There are several reasons why such changes have taken place.
1. Price competition
For many years prior to 1964, manufacturers were able to fix the prices at which their products were sold to the general public. Shopkeepers had to sell their goods at prices that were laid down by the manufacturers. This practice was known as resale price maintenance ( RPM ). The effect of RPM was that there was no price competition for many goods at the retail stage. They were sold at the some price in all shops. The more efficient shops could not cut their prices and take business away from the less efficient shops.
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