Grocery Industry Definitions

Traditional Store Formats

Source: Food Marketing Institue (

Grocery Store

The small corner grocery store that carries a limited selection of staples and other convenience goods. These stores typically generate approximately $1 million in business annually. Note: Novar's definition of the grocery retail market follows market research firm which includes convenience store chains that have significant grocery volume: (e.g. 7-Eleven, Circle K, Kroger's Kwik Shops and Turkey Hill Minit Markets) There are thousands of these stores, which collectively do billions of dollars in Grocery sales.


Stores offering a full line of groceries, meat, and produce with at least $2 million in annual sales and up to 15% of their sales in GM/HBC. These stores typically carry anywhere from 15,000 to 60,000 SKUs (depending on the size of the store), and may offer a service deli, a service bakery, and/or a pharmacy. As of 2010 there are 36,149 supermarkets in the USA.

Fresh Format

Different from traditional supermarkets and traditional natural food stores, fresh stores emphasize perishables and offer center-store assortments that differ from those of traditional retailers—especially in the areas of ethnic, natural,and organic, e.g., Whole Foods, Publix GreenWise, The Fresh Market, and some independents.


A supermarket with at least 30,000 sq. ft., generating $12 million or more annually and offering an expanded selection of non-food items. Specialty departments and extensive services are offered.

Warehouse Store

Grocery store with limited service that eliminates frills and concentrates on price appeal; items may be displayed in their original shipping cartons rather than placed individually on shelves. Stores may also sell bulk food and large size items.

Super Warehouse

A high-volume hybrid of a large Traditional Supermarket and a Warehouse store. Super Warehouse stores typically offer a full range of service departments, quality perishables, and reduced prices, e.g., Cub Foods, Food 4 Less,and Smart & Final.

Limited-Assortment Store

A low-priced grocery store that offers a limited assortment of center-store and perishable items (fewer than 2,000), e.g., Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Save-A-Lot.

Non-Traditional Store Formats

Wholesale Club

A membership retail/wholesale hybrid with a varied selection and limited variety of products presented in a warehouse-type environment. These 120,000 square-foot stores have 60% to 70% GM/HBC and a grocery line dedicated to large sizes and bulk sales. Memberships include both business accounts and consumer groups, e.g., Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s.


A hybrid of a large Traditional Supermarket and a Mass Merchandiser. Supercenters offer a wide variety of food, as well as non-food merchandise. These stores average more than 170,000 square feet and typically devote as much as 40% of the space to grocery items, e.g., Walmart Supercenters, Super Target, Meijer, and Fred Meyer.

Dollar Store

A small store format that traditionally sold staples and knickknacks, but now sales of food and consumable items at aggressive price points account for at least 20%, and up to 66%, of their volume, e.g., Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar.

Drug Store

A prescription-based drug store that generates 20% or more of its total sales from consumables, general merchandise, and seasonal items. This channel includes major chain drug stores such as Walgreens and CVS but does not include stores/chains, e.g., The Medicine Shoppe, that sell prescriptions almost exclusively.

Mass Merchandiser

A large store selling primarily hardlines, clothing, electronics, and sporting goods but also carries grocery and non-edible grocery items. This channel includes traditional Walmart, Kmart, and Target stores, etc.

Military Commissary

A format that looks like a Conventional grocery store carrying groceries and consumables but is restricted to use by active or retired military personnel. Civilians may not shop at these stores which are referred to as commissaries

Store Fixtures and Display Cases

Multi-deck Utility Case

Service Deli, Cheese and Seafood Case

Multi-deck Deli/Meat End Cap Case

Mlti-deck Island Case

High Volume Fresh Baked Goods Case

Narrow Glass Door Reach-In Medium Temp Case

Single Deck Meat/Seafood Case

Dome Full Service/Self Service Meat/Cheese/Deli/Seafood Case

Compressor Racks

Parallel Rack (Refrigeration Industries Corp)


Roof Top Distributed Rack (Hill Phoenix WeatherPac)


In store Distributed Systems (Hussmann Protocol Units)