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supermarketa RETAILER which typically sells a wide range of products on a self-service basis. Supermarkets may be under single-shop ownership or run as multiple CHAIN-STORE businesses. The bigger supermarket chains are able to achieve significant economies in distribution both on a group basis by being able to obtain favourable price discounts from manufacturers by BULK BUYING, and at the individual store level by the use of capital-intensive methods of retailing (see EPOS). Initially, supermarkets appeared mainly in the grocery trade, but groups there have moved into a variety of non-food lines (hardware, television and radio, paint, etc.). Similar supermarket-type operations have been established for most mass-retailed products.
Hypermarkets or superstores are an extended form of supermarket, usually located on the outskirts of towns and cities where space is plentiful.
Supermarkets compete mainly by offering consumers highly competitive prices on manufacturers' prepacked branded products. However, as part of their MARKETING-MIX policies, emphasis is also placed on product range (including the provision of fresh foods – bread, cheeses, meat, etc.) and various ancillary facilities – cafeteria or restaurant, petrol station etc. The most significant development, however, has been the introduction of OWN-LABEL BRANDS selling under the retailer's own name in direct competition to manufacturers'brands. See DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL.