store

Introduction

store, commonly a shop or stall for the retail sale of commodities, but also a place where wholesale supplies are kept, exhibited, or sold. Retailing—the sale of merchandise to the consumer—is one of the oldest businesses in the world and was practiced in prehistoric times.

Total retail sales, which include both retail stores and eating establishments, topped $2.7 trillion in the United States in 1998. Currently, there are over 1.5 million retail establishments employing over 19.8 million people. Most are small. One third of all retail establishments have no paid employees; about 43% have fewer than 10 employees. Larger stores, with over $500,000 in annual sales, account for three quarters of all retail sales. The 50 largest retailers control about one fifth of the market, and stores with ten or more branches account for 95% of all department store sales, 56% of all drugstore sales, half of all shoe sales, and 57% of all grocery store sales.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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