Although both supermarkets and department stores provide customers with a large variety of products, there are some similarities and differences between the two that we will be examining in this post.

A departmental store is a large-scale retail establishment, which sells a different variety of goods via various departments.

In other words, a department store is a retail outlet where different departments sell different kinds of goods under one roof.

On the other hand, a supermarket can be defined as a large retail establishment which sells a wide variety of goods on a self-service basis.

A supermarket may also be defined as a self-service, large retail outlet that deals in mainly households goods such as groceries, beverages

Similarities Between a Supermarket and a Departmental store

1. Both operate on a large-scale basis: Both supermarkets and departmental stores are large-scale retail outlets

2. Both require large capital to set up: Both supermarkets and departmental stores require large capital to operate as they operate on a large-scale basis.

To open a supermarket or a department store, one must rent a structure and stock it with the merchandise. These all require big investments.

3. Both sell a wide variety of goods: Customers can choose from a wide range of products at supermarkets and department stores.

4. Bulk buying: Both supermarkets and departmental stores buy goods in bulk from manufacturers

Difference Between Supermarkets and Departmental stores

1. Although both supermarkets and departmental stores are large retail establishments, departmental stores are typically larger than supermarkets.

Simply said, a departmental store is larger than a supermarket and a supermarket is smaller than a departmental store.

2. A supermarket operates on the principle of self-service as consumers served themselves in a supermarket.

In contrast, a supermarket does not operate on the principle of self-service as consumers are attended to by the salesman of each department.

3. In contrast to supermarkets, where sales are centralized over the counter, sales in department stores are decentralized into individual departments.

4. A supermarket primarily sells household goods, whereas a department store sells a variety of products.

Durable goods such as furniture, which are sold in department stores, are not sold in a supermarket.

5. The prices of goods in supermarkets are generally lower than that of department stores.

Accordingly, the prices of goods in departmental goods are generally higher than that of supermarkets.

6. Department stores aim to meet all of the customer's needs in one location, whereas supermarkets aim to offer consumers affordable household goods.

7. The cost of operating a departmental store is usually very high when compared to a supermarket. 

This is because a departmental store needs to employ a large number of people to man each department of the store.

In contrast, because a supermarket relies on self-service and does not need to employ a huge number of people, its operating costs are typically far lower than those of a department store.

RELATED POST: 14 Characteristics of a departmental store

8. Generally speaking, department stores offer a wider selection of products than supermarkets, and supermarkets offer a narrower selection of products than department stores.

Tabular Comparisons Between a Supermarket and a Departmental store

FeaturesDepartmental storeSupermarket
Sells a wide variety of goodsYesYes, but mainly household items
Large scale retailerYesYes
Required large capitalYes, even bigger than that of supermarketYes, but lesser than departmental stores
Operate on the principle of self-serviceNoYes
Sales techniquesDecentralized into departmentsCentralized over the counter.
Operating CostVery highHigh
PricesHigher than that of supermarketsLower than that of departmental stores
Bulk buyingYesYes
PurposeSatisfy all consumer needs under one roofProvide consumers with household items at affordable prices

To conclude, the key difference between a supermarket and a department store is that a supermarket operates on the principle of self-service while a department does not operate on the principle of self-service.

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