The rapid growth of chain stores since the war ranks with the expansion of installment selling as one of the significant developments of the post-war period in the United States. Chain stores at present occupy a very important place in the distribution of goods at retail and their development has given rise to many problems that concern manufacturers, distributors and consumers of merchandise.
The increase in numbers of retail chains and the large scale upon which many of them are now operating has caused apprehension in certain quarters that monopolies may be in process of development in the retail field which will prove more dangerous to the interests of consumers than any existing big-business combination in the field of production. At the instance of Senator Brookhart, a resolution was adopted by the Senate, May 12, 1928, directing an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission of any monopolistic tendencies that may have developed and calling upon the Commission for recommendations as to what legislation may be necessary for the regulation and control of chain-store marketing.
Share of Chain Stores in Retail Trade
According to Paul H. Nystrom, Professor of Marketing at Columbia University, sales of chain stores for the United States in 1927 amounted to about $5,000,000,000, or 12 per cent of the annual volume of retail trade. With the exception of department stores, and other individual unit stores, chain stores are the most important retail outlets in the country. Mail order houses with annual sales of $1,600,000,000, according to the same authority, have also grown rapidly and have become important retail distributors of merchandise. In the last two years the leading mail order houses have begun to open chain stores of their own throughout the country and further expansion is indicated for 1928.