A grocery store (AE), grocery shop (BE) or simply grocery is a store that primarily retails a general range of food products, which may be fresh or packaged. In everyday U.S. usage, however, \"grocery store\" is a synonym for supermarket, and is not used to refer to other types of stores that sell groceries. In the UK, shops that sell food are distinguished as grocers or grocery shops (though in everyday use, people usually use either the term \"supermarket\" or a \"corner shop\" or \"convenience shop\").
Larger types of stores that sell groceries, such as supermarkets and hypermarkets, usually stock significant amounts of non-food products, such as clothing and household items. Small grocery stores that sell mainly fruit and vegetables are known as greengrocers (Britain) or produce markets (U.S.), and small grocery stores that predominantly sell prepared food, such as candy and snacks, are known as convenience shops or delicatessens.
In the United Kingdom, terms in common usage include \"supermarket\" (for larger grocery stores), and \"corner shop\", \"convenience shop\", or \"grocery\" (meaning a grocery shop) for smaller stores. \"Grocery store\", being a North American term, is not used. The Oxford English Dictionary states that a \"grocery\" is (especially in British English) a shop that sells food and other things used in the home.
As increasing numbers of staple food-stuffs became available in cans and other less-perishable packaging, the trade expanded its province. Today, grocers deal in a wide range of staple food-stuffs including such perishables as dairy products, meats, and produce. Such goods are, hence, called groceries. 
Many rural areas still contain general stores that sell goods ranging from tobacco products to imported napkins. Traditionally, general stores have offered credit to their customers, a system of payment that works on trust rather than modern credit cards. This allowed farm families to buy staples until their harvest could be sold.
The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, was opened in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee, by Clarence Saunders, an inventor and entrepreneur. Prior to this innovation, grocery stores operated \"over the counter,\" with customers asking a grocer to retrieve items from inventory. Saunders' invention allowed a much smaller number of clerks to service the customers, proving successful (according to a 1929 issue of Time) \"partly because of its novelty, partly because neat packages and large advertising appropriations have made retail grocery selling almost an automatic procedure.\"
The early supermarkets began as chains of grocer's shops. The development of supermarkets and other large grocery stores has meant that smaller grocery stores often must create a niche market by selling unique, premium quality, or ethnic foods that are not easily found in supermarkets. A small grocery store may also compete by locating in a mixed commercial-residential area close to, and convenient for, its customers. Organic foods are also becoming a more popular niche market for smaller stores.
Grocery stores operate in many different styles ranging from rural family-owned operations, such as IGAs, to boutique chains, such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, to larger supermarket chain stores such as Walmart and Kroger Marketplace. In some places, food cooperatives, or \"co-op\" markets, owned by their own shoppers, have been popular. However, there has recently been a trend towards larger stores serving larger geographic areas. Very large \"all-in-one\" hypermarkets such as Walmart, Target, and Meijer have recently forced consolidation of the grocery businesses in some areas, and the entry of variety stores such as Dollar General into rural areas has undercut many traditional grocery stores. The global buying power of such very efficient companies has put an increased financial burden on traditional local grocery stores as well as the national supermarket chains, and many have been caught up in the retail apocalypse of the 2010s.
Many European cities (Rome, for example) are so dense in population and buildings that large supermarkets, in the American sense, cannot replace the neighbourhood grocer's shop. However, \"Metro\" shops have been appearing in town and city centres in many countries, leading to the decline of independent smaller shops. Large out-of-town supermarkets and hypermarkets, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's in the United Kingdom, have been steadily weakening trade from smaller shops. Many grocery chains like Spar or Mace are taking over the regular family business model.
In developing countries, often a significant portion of grocery shopping is done at so-called \"mom-and-pop\" (i.e. family-run), small grocery stores. 90% of the 810-billion-dollar Indian food and grocery market sales are at the 12 million small grocery stores, called kirana. Similarly, in Mexico, tiendas de la esquina (literally \"corner stores\") are still common places for people to buy groceries and sundries, even though they become less and less of the market over time.
A convenience shop is a small store that stocks a range of everyday items such as groceries, snack foods, candy, toiletries, soft drinks, tobacco products, and newspapers. They differ from general stores and village shops in that they are not in a rural location and are used as a convenient supplement to larger shops.
Although larger, newer convenience stores may have quite a broad range of items, the selection is still limited compared to supermarkets, and, in many stores, only 1 or 2 choices are available. Convenience stores usually charge significantly higher prices than ordinary grocery stores or supermarkets, which they make up for with convenience by serving more locations and having shorter cashier lines. Many convenience stores offer food ready to eat, such as breakfast sandwiches and other breakfast food.
A delicatessen store is a type of food store where fine foods are sold. In this sense, the name is often abbreviated to deli. The term delicatessen means \"delicacies\" or \"fine foods\". In English, \"delicatessen\" originally meant only this specially prepared food.
Some grocers specialize in the foods of certain countries or regions, such as Hispanic/Latin American, Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Russian, or Polish. These stores are known in the U.S. as ethnic markets, ethnic food markets, ethnic grocers, or ethnic grocery stores.
IBISWorld estimates U.S. ethnic grocery stores will make up ca. $51 billion in sales, 6% of the total ca. $819 billion in 2023 U.S. supermarket sales. The largest such chains in 2016 were Hispanic supermarkets Superior Grocers, with an estimated $ 1.6 billion in sales and El Súper-Bodega Latina, a division of Mexico's Chedraui Group, with estimated sales of $1.2 billion.
A health food store is a type of grocery store that primarily sells health foods, organic foods, local produce, and often nutritional supplements. Health food stores typically offer a wider or more specialized selection of foods than conventional grocery stores for their customers, such as people with special dietary needs.
In Australia and New Zealand, a milk bar is a suburban local general store or café. Similar terms include tuck shops, delicatessens or \"delis\", and corner shops. The first business using the name \"milk bar\" was started in India in 1930. By the late 1940s, milk bars had evolved to include not only groceries, but also became places where young people could buy ready-made food and non-alcoholic drinks and could socialise.
A supermarket, a large form of the traditional grocery store, is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food and household products organized into aisles. The supermarket typically comprises meat, fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods aisles, along with shelf space reserved for canned and packaged goods as well as for various non-food items such as kitchenware, household cleaners, pharmacy products and pet supplies.
A hypermarket is a superstore combining a supermarket and a department store. The result is an expansive retail facility carrying a wide range of products under one roof, including a full groceries line and general merchandise. Another category of stores sometimes included in the hypermarket category is the membership-based wholesale warehouse clubs that are popular in North America.
Grocery stores in South America have been growing fast since the early 1980s. A large percentage of food sales and other articles take place in grocery stores today. Some examples are the Chilean chains Cencosud (Jumbo and Santa Isabel covering Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru), Walmart (Lider and Ekono) as well as Falabella (Tottus in Chile and Peru and Supermercados San Francisco in Chile). These three chains are subsidiaries of large retail companies which also have other kinds of business units, such as department stores and home improvement outlets. All three also operate their own credit cards, which are a key driver for sales, and they also sell insurance and operate travel agencies. These companies also run some malls in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia.
Two other chains started in 2008: Unimarc, which bought several small local chains and has over 20% of the grocery segment in Chile; and Southern Cross, a Chilean Investment Fund that has around 8.6% of the supermarket segment, mainly oriented to the southern areas of the country. In Puerto Rico, popular grocery stores include Pueblo Supermarkets and Amigo.
In some countries such as the United States, grocery stores descended from trading posts, which sold not only food but clothing, furniture, household items, tools, and other miscellaneous merchandise. These trading posts evolved into larger retail businesses known as general stores. These facilities generally dealt only in \"dry\" goods such as baking soda, canned foods, dry beans, and flour. Perishable foods were obtained from specialty markets, such as fresh meat or sausages from a butcher and milk from a local dairy, while eggs and vegetables were either produced by families themselves, bartered for with neighbors, or purchased at a farmers' market or a local greengrocer. 59ce067264