The U.S. Retail Sector Since the Mid-1970's

much of the information needed to understand the competitive dynamics of local retail markets simply does not exist in a form usable by researchers.

That's from Ronald S. Jarmin, Shawn D. Klimek, and Javier Miranda of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, who in "The Role of Retail Chains: National, Regional, and Industry Results", use the Longitudinal Business Database -- individual retail location level data -- to assess the composition and structure of the retail industry since 1976. They're talking about the lack of product and price information, but note that the LBD does contain establishment payroll and employment, though not revenues or profits. Still, the data they analyze yield interesting conclusions:

Thus, we see that large metropolitan retail markets are characterized by fewer competitors per capita than rural and micropolitan county markets, but that competition in metropolitan markets is marked by higher firm turnover, and that this higher turnover is more pronounced among chain store retailers.

[Emphasis added]


Even more interesting is a presentation they gave in 2004 summarizing the paper. I liked slide 19 -- "Absolute Drop in Number of “Local” Stores" -- best. It notes that "The absolute number of single unit (SU) establishments has gone down. Between 1976 and 2000 the number of SUs has dropped by 2.53%." However, "Marked differences [exist] across CBSAs. Metro areas increased by 1.62% but Micropolitan and Rural areas experienced a drop of 12.40% and 17.65% respectively."

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on February 9, 2006 12:10 PM.

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