First Research US Industry Profile

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Warehouse Clubs & Superstores
SIC Codes: 5399, 5411
NAICS Codes: 452311
Last Quarterly Update: 5/30/2022
Companies in this industry operate membership retail stores that sell groceries, health and beauty items, electronics, and other merchandise; the majority of items are sold in large quantities. Major companies include BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco Wholesale, Meijer, Sam's Club (all based in the US), as well as Carrefour (France), Metro (Germany), and Tesco (UK).
The Asia/Pacific region, with its rising middle-class populations, is a magnet for global retailers in search of growth. The four largest Asian markets include China, India, Japan, and Indonesia, according to World Population Review. Costco Wholesale opened its first Chinese physical store in Shanghai in 2019. The US warehouse club giant also operates an online store in partnership with China's Alibaba. Costco competes with Sam's Club, which operates about 40locations in China, and Germany's Metro with more than 100 stores there. According to Marketplace.org, China's retail sales grew another 12.5% in 2021. China is the largest retail market even with slowing economic growth and has surpassed US retail sales, according to eMarketer.
The US warehouse club and superstore industry includes about a dozen companies with about 8,200 stores and combined annual revenue of about $550 billion.
Competitive Landscape
Demographics and small business growth drive demand, and spending in warehouse clubs generally resists economic cycles. The profitability of individual companies depends on high volume sales, low-cost purchasing, and efficient distribution. Large chains dominate the market due to advantages in purchasing, distribution, and finance. The US industry is highly concentrated: the top four companies account for more than 90% of revenue.
Warehouse clubs differ from superstores by requiring a membership to shop. Superstores typically offer a wide range of products, while warehouse clubs offer a limited selection. Both types of retailers sell products across many categories including food, and both compete with grocery stores, mass merchandisers, department stores, drugstores, specialty retailers, and wholesalers. Some retailers, such as Walmart, operate warehouse and superstores as well as traditional discount stores.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major products sold by warehouse clubs are medicines, minerals, and supplements, which account for about 30%. Other products include food dry goods (more ... plus:
Sales & Marketing
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Finance & Regulation
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Regional & International Issues
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Human Resources
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