WASHINGTON -- Combination stores and superstores are continuing to gain favor in the supermarket industry, according to a study.
rienced a precipitous drop, according to a Food Marketing Institute study on store development. Although conventional stores still account for the largest percentage of stores in operation, that percentage was only 48.9% last year -- down markedly from 59.3% of all stores in 1993, the report pointed out. "It remains to be seen whether this represents a future trend," the report noted. The report, entitled "1995 Facts About Store Development," included survey results from 166 retailers in the United States and Canada about store construction in 1994. In contrast to the decline in the number of conventional-format stores, the report found that combination stores accounted for 20.6% of all stores operating in 1994, up from 13.7% in 1993; superstores represented 25.1% of all units, compared with 21.6% in the prior year, and warehouse and limited assortment stores represented 5.4% of all stores in both 1994 and 1993. The drop in the proportion of conventional stores to the total was supported by the report's findings on store openings and closings by format, which indicated that 72.8% of all stores closed last year were conventional units, while only 25.1% of those that opened had conventional formats. However, only 18.4% of stores closed were superstores, compared with 23% of stores that opened, and only 5.5% of stores closed were combination stores, compared with a whopping 49.2% of all openings, according to the report. The report also noted that store construction increased at "a modest pace" of 3.3% last year, while the percentage of stores closed was 3.4% -- "indicating that, in general, new stores continue to replace older ones rather than representing net gains," the report said. According to the report, the pace of superstore construction has slowed -- from 28.9% of the total in 1992 to 18.3% in 1993 and 23% in 1994 -- at the same time the number of combination
store openings has shown a steady increase -- from 20.3% in 1992 to 32.3% in 1993 and 49.2% last year. The report said the median size of new stores grew more than 25% last year to 48,200 square feet, compared with a median of 38,000 square feet in 1993. It also said the typical combination store has grown smaller over the past two years -- from 60,860 square feet in 1993 to 49,622 square feet in 1994. In addition, while the typical conventional store that opened in 1994 was 32,000 square feet -- the same as in 1993 -- the median size of new superstores was 53,533 square feet last year, up from 49,236 square feet in 1993, the report indicated. Ten years ago the typical superstore was in the 40,000- to 44,000-square-foot range, the report noted. "Most of the growth has occurred over the last three years as retailers increased their focus on perimeter departments, which occupy more space," the report explained. The most popular service departments were delicatessens (at 95.9% of stores surveyed); bakeries, either scratch or bakeoff (92.8%); floral shops (89.7%), and seafood (88.7%), followed in order by greeting cards, prepared foods, video rentals and pharmacy. The report found that the median allocation for bakeries was 1,826 square feet; for delis, 1,592 square feet; florals, 536 square feet, and seafood, 784 square feet. In-store banks, which were offered at 21.6% of stores last year, were typically 531 square feet -- up from 300 square feet in 1993; and prepared foods, found in 77.3% of stores, typically covered 416 square feet, compared with a median of 200 square feet in 1993. Space for groceries and general merchandise and health and beauty care typically ran 1,928 linear feet for all formats.