South Asia is still dominated by mom-and-pop grocery stores, but—as in the US about 70 years ago—the supermarket sector is expanding and will eventually overtake family-run shops, the Economist gleans from a new study. "Many people assume that Asia's shopping habits are peculiar to the region and uniquely resistant to change," the authors write—but sheer demand will change all that.
India's small stores have survived so far with the the help of the government. They pay a lower rate of tax and adhere to a less stringent standard of hygiene. But if the tiny stores want to endure, notes the Economist, they may have to organize in a serious way. Far-fetched? Maybe not. As the Indian study points out, even Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton himself started out operating a tiny five-and-dime.