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This paper offers descriptive evidence regarding the trend toward increasing concentration in U.S. retailing industries. The data cover prominent retail industries including general merchandise stores, grocery stores, and drug stores for the years 1977 to 1992. Concentration is measured by conventional fourfirm concentration ratios and by the percentage of total industry receipts and total assets contributed by firms from the largest asset size class contained in the Internal Revenue Service: Corporate Statistics of Income data. The descriptive findings presented in this paper are relevant for the teaching of economics and potentially for antitrust policy. From a teaching perspective, a trend toward increasing concentration in retailing suggests that retail examples should be included with examples drawn from manufacturing when presenting oligopoly models. The findings are relevant from an antitrust perspective because increasing retail concentration suggests the need for antitrust enforcement agencies to more carefully scrutinize proposed mergers between large retail firms.
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Author(s): Louis H Amato Christie H Amato