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Supermarkets Inc: Inside a $500 Billion Money Machine

About the Show

Supermarkets Inc. Preview
The modern American supermarket is a miracle of the free-market system. CNBC reveals the inner workings of a brutal business with razor thin profit margins and relentless competition.

The typical modern American supermarket stocks 48,000 items, each battling for precious shelf space. How do they get there? Why are they arranged the way they are? Did you know that some stores use heat maps to track which aisles you walk down — and which ones you don't? Or that they put the milk at the end of the aisle so you're forced to pass a hundred other items on your way to get it? It's all done to gain an edge in a cutthroat business built on razor-thin margins.

CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen goes behind the scenes for a fascinating look at today’s supermarket industry. It is the story of a crowded and brutal business generating half a trillion dollars in annual sales. Established brands like Safeway, Giant Eagle and Kroger are cultural icons as familiar as our own street names, but they are under constant attack from brilliant upstarts like Whole Foods, big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco, and from ever-changing public tastes. Go behind the familiar facade of your neighborhood market to see how it really works.

Program Highlights

  • Speedy, Personalized Grocery Checkout     Thursday, 20 Jan 2011 | 12:02 AM ET

    Andrea Astrachan of Stop & Shop demonstrates 'Scan It,' the newest wave in supermarket checkouts: a hand-held grocery scanner that knows you better than you think.

  • The Future of Shopping is High-Tech     Thursday, 20 Jan 2011 | 12:01 AM ET

    Dan White of NCR describes how high tech is likely to revolutionize how you shop for groceries.

  • Competing Against the Grocery Giants     Thursday, 20 Jan 2011 | 12:03 AM ET

    Advertising executive Tom Carroll is helping Kaune¿s Neighborhood Market, an independent grocery store in Santa Fe, NM, survive in a business dominated by giants.

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  • Tyler Mathisen co-anchors CNBC's "Power Lunch." Mathisen also co-anchors "Nightly Business Report produced by CNBC."

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