Samizdata (Johnathan Pearce) offers some interesting reflections on a supermarket
"I say that if small stores are indeed being forced under, it has more to do with the burdens of regulation and tax which necessarily weigh more heavily on small firms than on larger, more established ones."
Possible explanation but from my experience I'd suggest that small stores with limited stock and higher prices cannot compete ---except on the basis of convenience --- that carton of cigarettes or milk --- with the marvelous display offered by some chains, such as the one described in the post. If there is a culprit --- and it escapes me why everything must have one, sometimes there is simply evolution --- it is the consumer who demands choice, convenience, style and amusement in even the most mundane matters such as shopping for mustard.
UPDATE: And don't miss Michael Jennings starting with supermarkets and ending with the productivity paradox.
The changing dynamics of shopping, should anyone wonder why I am linking, are directly related to urban form, the vitality of shopping districts etc etc. Food is one of the few daily essentials. The size of the store in which we purchase it has a direct connection, for example, to our use of cars etc etc. So acknowledgement of the structural superiority of the supermarket --- NO! the corner grocery has disappeared neither because of wicked government regulation nor because of wicked predatory corporations --- is an essential for neighborhood planning.