Category killer

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Product shelves in an outlet of Bed Bath & Beyond

A category killer is a retailer, often a big-box store, that specializes in and carries a large product assortment of a given category.[1]: 109–111  Through their wide merchandise selections, low pricing, deep supply, large buying power and market penetration, they have a comparative advantage over other, smaller retailers, and can greatly reduce the sales of rival retailers within that category, in the area[2] and beyond it.[1]

In essence, they are a price- or discount-based specialist mass-retailer.[1]: 13 [2] Chains such as OfficeMax, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Hobby Lobby have been considered category killers.[3]

Once typically found in power centers, increasingly they are found in or adjacent to (as an outbuilding of) repurposed traditional malls.

Large category killer stores are mostly in mid- and large-sized cities, because a large population is required to be feasible.[1]: 33 


Local merchants in cities with category killers "may suffer a substantial reduction in sales," and stores in a wider radius can be affected by the draw.[1]: 109–111  Between 1983 and 1993, Iowans spent 31% less in hardware stores, translating to a loss of 37% in the same time to those stores as a result of category killer stores.[1]: 67–68, 89 

United States retailers[edit]

Sporting goods stores that are category killers range in footprint from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet (930 to 3,720 m2).[1]: 37 Home Depot carries 30,000 items in 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) stores.[4]: 148 

Examples of retailers considered to be category killers[1]: 4 
Retailer Category Defunct?
The Home Depot Home and construction
Builders Square 1999 (stores)
2009 (brand)
Home Quarters 1999
Circuit City Electronics 2009 (stores)
2012 (brand)
Best Buy
Toys "R" Us Toys 2018 (US stores)
Barnes & Noble Books
Borders 2011
OfficeMax Office supplies
Office Depot
Petco Pet supplies
Party City Party supplies
The Gap[4]: 122  Clothing
Old Navy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Stone, Kenneth E. (1995). Competing With the Retail Giants: How to Survive in the New Retail Landscape. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-05440-2. OCLC 31901604.
  2. ^ a b Kraft, Manfred; Mantrala, Murali K. (2010). Retailing in the 21st Century: Current and Future Trends (2nd ed.). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 127, 133. ISBN 978-3-540-72003-4. OCLC 567361303.
  3. ^ Lal, Rajiv; Alvarez, Jose B (10 October 2011). "Retailing Revolution: Category Killers on the Brink". Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Michman, Ronald D.; Greco, Alan James (1995). Retailing Triumphs and Blunders: Victims of Competition in the New Age of Marketing Management. Alan James Greco. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books. ISBN 978-1-4294-7347-7. OCLC 232160862.

External links[edit]