It’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Chain Store
The origins of modern chain store retailing date back several millennia to ancient China. Merchants in China and later Japan recognised there were advantages to centralised management and selling through multiple distribution points which to day serve as the defining characteristics of chain store retailing. Chain stores emerged in North America in the 1700s when the Hudson’s Bay Company created a network of branded trading posts. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the chain store approach to retail gained momentum in Europe and the United States. The era of chain store expansion began in earnest in the early 20th century as retailers recognised the profit potential associated with leveraging a variety of fixed and variable costs across an expanding base of stores whereby the sales volume generated by each additional location produced incremental profits. The superiority of the chain store business model became evident following the Second World War when global consumption surged for all manner of consumer goods. This set off an unprecedented wave of chain store expansion across all types of merchandise classifications. Definitions on the number of units that constitute a chain may vary, but there is no disputing the chain store’s impact on retailing. Chain stores led a dramatic restructuring of the retail industry during the past 100 years and today many of the world’s largest corporations are chain store operations.
Contribution to Retail History
The chain store method of retailing brought about arguably the greatest structural change the industry has seen during the past 100 years. The retail industry today is dominated by those who operate chain stores to effectively serve consumers’ wants and needs in a profitable manner.
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