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Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

by Robert P King, Ephraim Leibtag, and Ajay S. Behl

Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-839) 17 pp, December 2004

cover image Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

Keywords: Food prices, supermarkets, low-income consumers, food stamps, metro, nonmetro

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Last updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013

For more information contact: Robert P King, Ephraim Leibtag, and Ajay S. Behl

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