Mass market retailers are arguably the most important sector in American retail, accounting for the greatest percentage of purchases made by American consumers.
One major difference between the United States’ retail market and those in other parts of the world is the prevalence of Mass Market Retailers. While many world economies rely much more on smaller stores that sell specialized items, the American culture of convenience demands one-stop-shop kinds of stores with low prices and lots of options. These stores generally appeal to middle and working class Americans who don’t have time or money to shop around at high-end specialty stores.
The best known, and largest, example of a mass market retailer is Walmart. Walmart stores vary in size, the largest store type is called Super Walmart, a massive store designed to satisfy the convenience needs of all Americans. They are usually easy to get to, often right off of a major highway, have very low prices and are sometimes open 24-hours. Super Walmarts carry everything that a food supermarket would, in addition to clothing, electronics, home goods, gardening equipment, live plants, craft supplies, hardware, and nearly anything else.
But not all mass market retailers sell such a variety, some specialize in electronics, such as Best Buy. Others sell only clothes or food. The bulk of American grocery shopping is done at mass market retail grocery chains, which vary between regions within the United States. Many American consumers, though, do all of their shopping, whether it be for groceries or clothes, at their local Walmart.
Mass market retailers are generally standalone stores or are built into strip malls. Sometimes several mass market retailers will coexist in a single strip mall, selling slightly different types of goods. Unlike much of Europe, Americans do not mind driving a little farther for the convenience and low prices of mass market retailers.
The American preference for mass market retailers has slowed down the growth of e-commerce in the United States. While e-commerce does continue to grow in popularity, the United States lags behind the rest of the world because Americans would rather drive to their nearest mass market retail store than wait a few days for products to ship to them.
Walmart alone accounts for 20% of all personal care items, including health and beauty products. This is followed by mass market supermarket chains, which make up 16% of all personal care purchases. In contrast only 3.1% of personal care purchases are made online.
As e-commerce technology improves and becomes more instant and convenient, there may be a greater shift in favor of e-commerce. However, for now, mass market retailers are the clear leaders in the American market.