Competition, Productivity, and Survival of Grocery Stores in the Great Depression

49 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2019

See all articles by Emek Basker

Emek Basker

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies; University of Missouri - Department of Economics

Christopher Z. Vickers

Auburn University

Nicolas Ziebarth

University of Iowa

Date Written: February 13, 2018

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: Great Depression; grocery stores; supermarkets; retail chains; survival; Washington, DC

JEL Classification: L81, N82, N92

Suggested Citation

Basker, Emek and Vickers, Christopher Z. and Ziebarth, Nicolas, Competition, Productivity, and Survival of Grocery Stores in the Great Depression (February 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3428043 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3428043

Emek Basker (Contact Author)

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-9100
United States

University of Missouri - Department of Economics ( email )

118 Professional Building
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emekbasker.org

Christopher Z. Vickers

Auburn University ( email )

415 West Magnolia Avenue
Auburn, AL 36849
United States

Nicolas Ziebarth

University of Iowa ( email )

341 Schaeffer Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1097
United States

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