A hypermarket is a type of superstore that is a combination of a department store and supermarket. The hypermarket is an expansive retail facility offering a wide range of products and services under its roof, including general merchandise such as clothing and appliances as well as a full line of groceries. A hypermarket offers a one stop shopping experience.
The business model for the hypermarket focuses on low-margin, high-volume sales. A typical Walmart Supercenter is approximately 150,000 square feet and the French hypermarket, Carrefour 210,000 square feet. Many hypermarkets are located in suburban locations.
The hypermarket was pioneered by the French company Carrefour. The company opened their first hypermarket in 1963 in Sainte-Genevieve-des Bois. Today, Carrefour is the world’s second largest retailer in revenue behind Walmart.
In North America, the first hypermarket was opened in Montreal by the Oshawa Group in 1973, and the first in the United States in 1987 by Walmart. Walmart, Target and Kmart began developing hypermarket discount stores in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1987 Walmart rolled out Hypermart USA and then later the Walmart Supercenter. Kmart introduced the Super Kmart and Target the Target Greatland and then opened the first Super Target store in 1995 in Omaha, Nebraska.
In France, where hypermarkets began, laws were enacted amidst fears that smaller stores would be driven out of business. These laws made it harder to build hypermarkets and made it more difficult for the chains to impose financial leverage with their suppliers. Most French hypermarkets are located in shopping centers outside of the major cities with large parking lots. Specialty superstores selling items such as sporting goods, automotive items, or clothing are often nearby.
In Japan, by contrast, hypermarkets are often found inside urban areas. Hypermarkets are encouraged by the Japanese government. They are often financed through mutual funds. Hypermarkets in Japan often consists of restaurants, internet cafes, Manga (Japanese comics), department stores, grocery stores, and beauty salons.
The biggest hypermarkets in Spain are Hiperco and Eroski which are both part of the El Corte Ingles group. The chain of stores was established by Ramon Areces in 1940. Hypermarkets in Spain are mostly in industrial sprawl areas outside of the urban cores.
In the United States, hypermarkets are quite often single-level enterprise and offer extended hours, some even open 24 hours. There is some opposition to hypermarkets in the United States from some preservationists and activists who point to the damage to local retail districts and independent retailers and grocers. Some of the major hypermarket retailers include Fred Meyer, Super Kmart, Meijer, Super Target, Walmart Supercenter, and Biggs.
Warehouse clubs are sometimes also included in with hypermarkets. The warehouse clubs offer memberships to consumers. The concept was pioneered by Fedco. Today’s more well known warehouse clubs include Sam’s Club, which is a division of Walmart, Costco, and on the east coast BJ’s Wholesale Club. In Europe the leading warehouse club is Makro. Warehouse clubs do have some differences from other hypermarkets though in that they have restrictive memberships and offer broad rather than deep merchandise selections. These clubs work on a financial model of rapid inventory turnover.