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Competition, productivity, and survival of grocery stores in the Great Depression

Emek Basker, Chris Vickers and Nicolas L. Ziebarth

International Journal of Industrial Organization, 2018, vol. 59, issue C, 282-315

Abstract: We study the grocery industry in Washington, DC, during the Great Depression using data from the 1929 Census of Distribution, a 1929–1930 survey by the Federal Trade Commission, and a 1935 business directory. We first document the differences between chains and independents in the Washington, DC, grocery market circa 1929 to better understand chains’ competitive advantages. Second, we study correlates of survival from 1929 to 1935, a period of major contraction and upheaval. We find that more productive stores survived at higher rates, as did stores with greater assortment and lower prices. Presaging the supermarket revolution, combination stores were much more likely to survive to 1935 than other grocery formats.

Keywords: Grocery Stores; Survival; Great Depression; Chains; Competition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L11 L81 N82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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