To read this content please select one of the options below:

A brief history of food retail

John L. Stanton (Department of Food Marketing, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to provide a historic perspective on the supermarket industry that has changed from the small Mom and Pop stores to major supermarket chains.


This study is a review of secondary information from trade literature, popular new media and academic publications.


The changes in supermarkets and food stores followed the trends in how consumers have changed and developed. As consumers around the world continue to change, so will food retailers.

Research limitations/implications

The author could have included more on the development in underdeveloped countries.

Practical implications

This paper has practical implication in that to understand that food retailers must continue to follow consumer and technology changes if they want to grow and prosper. To quote Winston Churchill, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

Social implications

Supermarkets must be responsive to consumer changes and as consumer become more demanding for convenience so must supermarkets must continue to provide it or disappear.


This study is original to the extent that it brought together the different eras in supermarket. The actual changes have been well known.



This article precedes a special section on the theme of food retailing edited by Sanda Renko. This is due to feature in BFJ Volume 120, Issue 2.


Stanton, J.L. (2018), "A brief history of food retail", British Food Journal, Vol. 120 No. 1, pp. 172-180.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles