Big-box store

A big-box store (also supercenter, superstore, or megastore) is a physically large retail establishment, usually part of a chain of stores. The term sometimes also refers, by extension, to the company that operates the store. The store may sell general dry goods, in which case it is a department store, or may be limited to a particular specialty (such establishments are often called "category killers") or may also sell groceries, in which case some countries (mostly in Europe) use the term hypermarket.

Typical architectural characteristics include the following:

  • Large, free-standing, cuboid, generally single-floor structure built on a concrete slab. The flat roof and ceiling trusses are generally made of steel, and the walls are concrete block clad in metal or masonry siding.
  • The structure typically sits in the middle of a large, paved parking lot. It is meant to be accessed by vehicle, rather than by pedestrians.[1]
  • Floor space several times greater than traditional retailers in the sector, providing for a large amount of merchandise; in North America, generally more than 50,000 square feet (4650 m2), sometimes approaching 200,000 square feet (18,600 m2), though varying by sector and market. In countries where space is at a premium, such as the United Kingdom, the relevant numbers are smaller and stores are more likely to have two or more floors.

Commercially, big-box stores can be broken down into two categories: general merchandise (examples include Walmart, Kmart and Target), and specialty stores (such as Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, or Best Buy) which specialize in goods within a specific range, such as hardware, books, or consumer electronics respectively. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many traditional retailers—such as Tesco and Praktiker opened stores in the big-box-store format in an effort to compete with big-box chains, which are expanding internationally as their home markets reach maturity.[2]

Walmart - Blaine, MN - panoramio
Walmart, a general merchandise big-box store
BarnsAndNoble AnnArbor MI
Barnes & Noble, a specialty big-box store
View from Westfield Garden State Plaza - panoramio
A big-box shopping center in Paramus, New Jersey, that includes an IKEA (not pictured), a Christmas Tree Shops store, and a Bed Bath & Beyond store. It is located across from Westfield Garden State Plaza shopping mall.



Big-box development has at times been opposed by labor unions because the employees of such stores are usually not unionized. Unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 and the Joint Labor Management Committee of the Retail Food Industry have expressed concern about the grocery market because stores such as Kmart, Target, and Walmart now sell groceries.[3] Unions and cities are attempting to use land-use ordinances to restrict these businesses.[4]

Urban planning

Sears Marshalls 63d Rd Rego Pk jeh
2011 photo of a Sears big box store with subway station in Rego Park, Queens, New York City, New York. This location closed in 2017.

Because it is generally inaccessible to pedestrians and often can only be reached by motor vehicles, the big-box store has been criticized as unsustainable and a failure of urban planning.[5][6]

Big-box stores in various countries


Interior of Mitre 10 MEGA, a big box hardware store in Australia

The first company in Australia to use the big-box model was IKEA beginning operation in Australia in 1975. Bunnings Warehouse followed in 1995 and Mitre 10 Australia adopted the model with the "Mitre 10 Mega" stores first opening at Beenleigh, Queensland in 2004. Costco has since expanded across Australia since opening its first store in 2009.


Apart from major American big-box stores such as Walmart Canada and briefly now-defunct Target Canada, there are many retail chains operating exclusively in Canada. These include stores such as (followed after each slash by the owner) Hudson's Bay/Home Outfitters, Loblaws/Real Canadian Superstore, Rona, Winners/HomeSense, Canadian Tire/Mark's/Sport Chek, Shoppers Drug Mart, Chapters/Indigo Books and Music, Sobeys, and many others. The indigenous Loblaw Companies Limited has expanded and multiplied its Real Canadian Superstore (and Maxi & Cie in Quebec) branded outlets to try to fill any genuine big-box market and fend off the damaging competition that a large Walmart penetration would inflict on Canadian-based retailers.

In the early 21st century, commercial developers in Canada such as RioCan chose to build big-box stores (often grouped together in so-called "power centres") in lieu of traditional shopping malls. Examples include Deerfoot Meadows (Calgary), Stonegate Shopping Centre and Preston Crossing (Saskatoon), South Edmonton Common (Edmonton), and Heartland Town Centre (Mississauga).

There are currently more than 300 power centers, which usually contain multiple big-box stores, located throughout Canada.


Most large grocery stores in China are of the big box variety, selling big screen TVs, computers, mobile phones, bicycles, and clothing. Many foreign names appear, such as Carrefour, Auchan, Tesco, Lotte Mart, and Walmart, as well as dozens of Chinese chains. Most stores are three stories with moving sidewalk-style escalators. Some stores are so large as to have 60 checkout terminals and their own fleet of buses to bring customers to the store at no charge.

Hong Kong

ParknShop in Tai Po Mega Mall
A superstore in Hong Kong

To contend against Carrefour, PARKnSHOP opened the first superstore in 1996 based on the concept of a wet market. Most superstores in Hong Kong emphasizes one-stop shopping, such as providing car park services. Today, PARKnSHOP has more than 50 superstores and megastores, making it the largest superstore network in Hong Kong. The first Wellcome superstore opened in 2000 and it has only 17 superstores. In addition, CRC has four superstores in Hong Kong.

However, because Hong Kong is a very densely populated city, the sizes of superstores are considerably smaller than those in other countries. Some superstores are running at deficit, such as Chelsea Heights which therefore has stopped selling fresh fish. Furthermore, some PARKnSHOP superstores and megastores, such as Fortress World, belong to the same corporation, Hutchison Whampoa.


Many configurations exist: the hypermarket that sells many kinds of goods under one roof (like French chains Carrefour, Auchan, and E.Leclerc), most of which are integrated within a shopping mall; the supermarket that is a smaller version of a hypermarket; the market located in city centres; the department store, which first appeared in Paris, then opened in other parts of the world; the "category killer" superstore that mainly sells goods in a particular domain (automotive, electronics, home furniture, etc.); and the warehouse store.


India is currently going through a retail revolution, following the introduction of Big Bazaar in 2001. However, even before that, large retail stores were not uncommon in India. Spencer's, a popular hypermart, traces its history as far back as 1863. Similarly, conglomerates, such as Bharti, Godrej, Reliance, and TATA, have over the last decade ventured into large-format retail chains. However, most of the stores opened in large malls and not as independent big box format stores, even though small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still account for the majority of the daily consumer transaction needs. However,the most successful consumer retail chain that took the market and penetrated also to tier 2 and tier 3 cities was D Mart, owned by Avenue Supermarkets Limited.

An attempt was made to allow international large format retailers such as Walmart into the country. However, it was successfully opposed by small retailers citing job elimination due to increased efficiency and lowered prices due to fewer losses and lower costs.

India's true Big box format store was opened by IKEA in city of Hyderabad.

Republic of Ireland

In Ireland, large merchandise stores in the style of U.S. superstores were not a part of the retail sector until the late 20th century. Dunnes Stores have traditionally had a supermarket-plus-household-and-clothes model and now have some large stores. Tesco Ireland now runs upwards of 19 hypermarkets across the country.

New Zealand

The big-box phenomenon hit New Zealand in the late 1980s, with the introduction of Kmart Australia and later the "Warehouse" superstore, a local company. Mitre 10 New Zealand opened their first Mega in 2004 at Hastings, New Zealand six months before the Australian Mega store; it opened to great success with 20 more stores opening within two years. Australian-owned Bunnings Warehouse opened its first store in New Zealand in 2006.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Makro and Costco membership-only warehouse club stores have been around for 3 decades. General merchandise shops along the lines of U.S. superstores are not a large part of the retail sector, but this has been changing in recent years, with the creation of extra-large supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda selling a broader range of non-food goods, typically in out-of-town shopping centres or retail parks. As in the US, such large shops are sometimes called anchor tenants. The growth of online retail and budget retail has led to these chains moving away from the large out-of-town supermarkets which have waned in popularity.

The term "big-box store" is not used in the UK. "Superstore" is sometimes used, but with a slightly different meaning: on road signs it means "large supermarket"; in self-service shop names it denotes an outlet larger than that particular chain's usual size.

United States

Super Target, McDonough
Exterior of a SuperTarget in McDonough, Georgia
Lowes Gowanus interior jeh
Interior of a Lowe's big-box hardware store in Brooklyn

In the United States, a superstore is usually a type of department store, equivalent to the European term hypermarket. However, sometimes it refers to specialist category killer retailers.

Usually associated with large chains such as Target and Walmart, a superstore sells a wide range of products, such as toys, electronics, clothing, groceries, furniture, sporting goods, and automotive supplies. These types of stores advertise "one-stop shopping", where customers can stop just once at their store and buy everything they need or want. Most superstores are located on a single level, unlike other department stores which are often multi-leveled.

Meijer is generally credited with pioneering the superstore concept in the United States. The first Meijer Superstore opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1962. By contrast, Walmart didn't open its first Supercenter until 1988.

Superstores should not be confused with warehouse club stores, such as Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale Club. While many superstores are as large as some warehouse stores and most are architecturally similar, they differ commercially. Superstores do not require the customer to purchase large quantities of items, nor do they require membership in order to shop. Warehouse club stores are not considered "big-box stores".

See also


  1. ^ Kelbaugh, Douglas (2002). Repairing the American Metropolis. USA: University of Washington Press. p. 165. ISBN 0295982047.
  2. ^ CQ Researcher: Big-Box Stores. September 10, 2004.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Dunham-Jones, Ellen (2011). Retrofitting Suburbia,. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons. p. 51. ISBN 1118027671.
  6. ^ Yin, Jordan (2012). Urban Planning For Dummies. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons. p. 220. ISBN 1118101685.

External links

Category killer

A category killer is a retailer that specializes in and carries a deep product assortment within a given category and through selection, pricing and market penetration obtains a massive competitive advantage over other retailers. Chains such as Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Staples are considered category killers.

Chuck (season 5)

The fifth and final season of the American action-comedy television series Chuck was announced on May 13, 2011. It included 13 episodes. The season premiered on October 28, 2011 and concluded January 27, 2012 with a two-hour finale.

Continuing from the eponymous cliffhanger ending of the fourth season finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", the fifth season featured the series returning to its roots. With their new-found wealth, Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah Bartowski (Yvonne Strahovski) own the fictional big-box store Buy More, as well as their new freelance spy organization, Carmichael Industries, which includes John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez). Meanwhile, Morgan acts as the human possessor of the government database known as the Intersect, and Chuck is forced to act as Morgan's protector in the same way that Sarah and Casey were to Chuck in past seasons.

Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger

"Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" is the fourth season finale of the American NBC action-comedy television series Chuck. Aired on May 16, 2011, it is the season's 24th episode, and the 78th overall episode of the series. The episode was directed by Robert Duncan McNeill and written by series co-creator Chris Fedak, along with Nicholas Wootton. Despite the episode's eponymous cliffhanger ending, supposedly leading into a fifth season, it was anticipated that Chuck would be cancelled after the fourth season for declining viewership, making "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" the de facto series finale. However, a fifth and final season was ordered on May 13, 2011.

Chuck revolves around the Intersect, a government database designed by Stephen J. Bartowski. In the pilot episode of the series, Stephen's son Chuck (Zachary Levi) receives the database and accidentally uploads it to his brain. Chuck is then forced from his life as an employee at the big-box store Buy More to the spy world. By the fourth season, Chuck is a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent and is engaged to one of his handlers, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).

In the season, Chuck and his team fulfill Stephen Bartowski's last wish to destroy Volkoff Industries, led by international arms dealer Alexei Volkoff (Timothy Dalton). It is then revealed that Volkoff was actually Hartley Winterbottom, an MI6 scientist who worked with Stephen in the 1980s. In preparation for an undercover assignment as an arms dealer named Alexei Volkoff, Winterbottom became the first person to upload the Intersect. However, the upload malfunctioned, overwriting Winterbottom's personality with that of his cover, and Stephen spent the last 20 years of his life trying to fix his mistake. At the end of "Chuck Versus the Last Details", Volkoff's daughter Vivian (Lauren Cohan) learns of her father's true identity, and, holding Chuck responsible, poisons Chuck's fiancée Sarah with a Volkoff Industries weapon called "the Norseman". To save Sarah's life and stop Vivian from destroying his and Sarah's wedding, Chuck turns to Alexei for help. To keep secret Volkoff's true identity, the CIA sends its "toughest" agent, Clyde Decker (Richard Burgi), to stop Chuck.

"Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. According to the Nielsen ratings system, it drew 4.53 million viewers, with a 1.5/4 rating among those aged 18–49.

Cloud9 (disambiguation)

Cloud9 (without a space between "cloud" and "9")

Cloud9, a professional esports organization based in California that sponsor teams that compete in several games

Cloud9 (service provider), a mobile phone company in the Isle of Man

Cloud9 IDE, an open source cloud web-based integrated development environment

Cloud9, a fictional big-box store in Superstore (TV series)

Clovelly Trails

Clovelly Trails is a neighbourhood located in the northeast end of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Clovelly Trails is a multi subdivision residential development; the area includes single-family homes, high-end homes and adult living complexes. Clovelly Trails is home to Clovelly Golf Course, the high-end homes in this area, that sell for around 3/4 of a million dollars, are located on the boundaries of the golf course. Most of the streets in the area are affiliated with war veterans.

The neighbourhood also consists of the Stavanger Drive commercial district, which was the first big-box store development in St. John's. Since being developed in the late 1990s, the area has undergone tremendous growth with such businesses as Boston Pizza, Costco, Dominion Supermarket, Future Shop, Wal-Mart, Old Navy and McDonald's moving into the area.


Cornelscourt (Irish: Cúirt an Choirnéil) is a small suburban area of South Dublin, situated between Cabinteely and Foxrock. It has a mostly commercial rather than residential character and is best known for being the site of Ireland's first big-box store, a branch of Dunnes Stores.

Fry's Electronics

Fry's Electronics is an American big-box store and retailer of software, consumer electronics, household appliances and computer hardware. Fry's has in-store computer repair and custom computer building services. The company has a chain of superstores headquartered in Silicon Valley. Starting with one store located in Sunnyvale, California, the chain posted sales of $2.4 billion and operated 34 stores in nine states by 2008.

G. E. M. Membership Department Stores

G. E. M. Membership Department Stores, also known as G.E.X. or G.E.S., was a chain of discount stores in the United States and Canada. The chain extended membership to direct and indirect government employees; the name was an acronym for "Government Employees Mart."Appliance and electronics departments in G.E.M. stores were operated by Wards Company, which later changed its name to Circuit City.The stores closed during the discount store shakeout of 1973.

Canadian pharmacist Murray Koffler was an investor in the G.E.M. chain, bringing the first G.E.M. store to Toronto in 1959. He eventually subleased the G.E.M. drug department in several Toronto area stores. Following the G.E.M. discount model, Koffler later opened one of the first "big box" store chains, Shoppers Drug Mart.

Göran Karlsson's Motor Museum

Göran Karlsson's Motor Museum is a museum of classic cars and motorcycles, opened in Sweden in 2007.

Göran Karlsson started Gekås in Ullared, Sweden in 1963 which today is the largest big-box store in Scandinavia. He was a dedicated collector. The museum has a number of cars of different brands and marques, such as Lamborghini and Chevrolet, where one of the museum's most precious cars is an Excalibur SS Series 1 Roadster that once belonged to the Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson.

Hardware store

Hardware stores (in a number of countries, "shops"), sometimes known as DIY stores, sell household hardware for home improvement including: fasteners, building materials, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chains, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for use at home or for business. Many hardware stores have specialty departments unique to its region or its owner's interests. These departments include hunting and fishing supplies, plants and nursery products, marine and boating supplies, pet food and supplies, farm and ranch supplies including animal feed, swimming pool chemicals, homebrewing supplies and canning supplies. The five largest hardware retailers in the world are The Home Depot, Lowe's (both of the United States), Kingfisher of the United Kingdom, Obi of Germany, and Leroy Merlin of France.


A "hypermarket" (sometimes called a "supercenter" or "superstore") is a big-box store combining a supermarket and a department store. The result is an expansive retail facility carrying a wide range of products under one roof, including full groceries lines and general merchandise. In theory, hypermarkets allow customers to satisfy all their routine shopping needs in one trip. The term hypermarket (French: hypermarché) was coined in 1968 by French trade expert Jacques Pictet.Hypermarkets, like other big-box stores, typically have business models focusing on high-volume, low-margin sales. Typically covering an area of 5,000 to 15,000 square metres (54,000 to 161,000 sq ft), they generally have more than 200,000 different brands of merchandise available at any one time. Because of their large footprints, many hypermarkets choose suburban or out-of-town locations that are easily accessible by automobile.

Kohl's Plaza

Kohl's Plaza is a strip mall at 1814 Central Avenue in Colonie, New York which includes the big box store Kohl's and several smaller tenants. It is one of two original locations for Kohl's in the New York Capital Region. Prior to Kohl's arrival in the plaza, it was known as Builder's Square Plaza as Builders Square was the only big box store in the plaza. The plaza has been in place since at least 1990. The Mohawk Drive-in Theatre operated from 1946 to 1986 at this location.

Mass market

The term "mass market" refers to a market for goods produced on a large scale for a significant number of end consumers. The mass market differs from the niche market in that the former focuses on consumers with a wide variety of backgrounds with no identifiable preferences and expectations in a large market segment. Traditionally, businesses reach out to the mass market with advertising messages through a variety of media including radio, TV, newspapers and the Web.

Mattress World of Michigan

Mattress World, Inc. or Mattress World of Michigan was a mattress retail chain in Michigan and Indiana in the Midwestern United States. Its headquarters were in Genoa Township, Michigan. Stores were usually freestanding and located in bedroom communities instead of big box store corridors.

Point Isabel (promontory)

Point Isabel is a small promontory on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in the Richmond Annex neighborhood of Richmond, USA. It can be reached at the west terminus of Central Ave. from Richmond / El Cerrito.


Shoplocal is a marketing and advertising service that builds, hosts and maintains catalogs and online weekly ads exclusively for big-box store retailers. Its partners include U.S. retailers in the circular space, namely the brands of Ace Hardware, Kohls, Office Depot, Michael's, TrueValue, Target, Lowe's, Staples, Jo-Ann, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. ShopLocal SmartMedia services can then take catalogs and weekly ads and serve them up to customers via interactive, localized banner advertising that can be run anywhere on the Internet.

Shoppers' City

Shoppers' City was a chain of seven stores in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area in the 1960s and 1970s. It was one of the forerunners of the "big box" store. The chain was notable for being one of the first stores in Minnesota to open on Sundays. It included discount groceries, home goods and sundries along with a barber shop, pharmacy, dry cleaners and snack bar; it also featured a furniture and appliance department on the mezzanine, at one time run by the Furniture Barn. In the early 1970s the furniture departments were owned by Harold Sklar & his son, Charles. They also owned Sklar's Furniture Store in Duluth's West End in the mid-1970s, where it was surrounded by 4 other furniture stores. It was sold to the larger Massachusetts-based chain Zayre in 1967 and the Zayre locations in the Twin Cities market were thereafter known as "Zayre Shoppers' City."

Superstore (TV series)

Superstore is an American single-camera sitcom television series that premiered on NBC on November 30, 2015. The series was created by Justin Spitzer, who also serves as an executive producer. Starring America Ferrera (who also serves as a producer), Ben Feldman and Mark McKinney, Superstore follows a group of employees working at "Cloud 9,” store number 1217, a fictional big-box store in St. Louis, Missouri. The ensemble and supporting cast includes Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos and Nichole Bloom.

On February 21, 2018, NBC renewed the series for a 22-episode fourth season, which premiered on October 4, 2018.

On March 4, 2019, NBC renewed the series for a fifth season.

West Royalty, Prince Edward Island

West Royalty is a neighbourhood of the city of Charlottetown in central Queens County, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

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