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Keywords:

  • Food-retail development;
  • supermarkets;
  • competition;
  • price strategies

This article analyses the changes in Brazilian food retailing by investigating the co-existence of, and the pricing variation across, large supermarket chains and small independent supermarkets. It uses cointegration tests to show that, despite the widespread belief that small supermarkets are inefficient and charge higher prices, they in fact charge lower prices. Accordingly, in contrast to the prevailing literature on food-retail development, competition in food retail is complex and cannot be described as a simple Darwinian process of market concentration. The article explores the survival of small retail and its consequences for the current discussion on modern food retail in developing countries.