We examined differences in consumer-level characteristics and structural resources and capabilities of small and non-traditional food retailers (i.e. corner stores, gas-marts, pharmacies, dollar stores) by racial segregation of store neighbourhood and corporate status (corporate/franchise- v. independently owned).
Observational store assessments and manager surveys were used to examine availability-, affordability- and marketing-related characteristics experienced by consumers as well as store resources (e.g. access to distributors) and perceived capabilities for healthful changes (e.g. reduce pricing on healthy foods). Cross-sectional regression analyses of store and manager data based on neighbourhood segregation and store corporate status were conducted.
Small and non-traditional food stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, USA.
One hundred and thirty-nine stores; seventy-eight managers.
Several consumer- and structural-level differences occurred by corporate status, independent of residential segregation. Compared with independently owned stores, corporate/franchise-owned stores were more likely to: not offer fresh produce; when offered, receive produce via direct delivery and charge higher prices; promote unhealthier consumer purchases; and have managers that perceived greater difficulty in making healthful changes (P≤0·05). Only two significant differences were identified by residential racial segregation. Stores in predominantly people of colour communities (<30 % non-Hispanic White) had less availability of fresh fruit and less promotion of unhealthy impulse buys relative to stores in predominantly White communities (P≤0·05).
Corporate status appears to be a relevant determinant of the consumer-level food environment of small and non-traditional stores. Policies and interventions aimed at making these settings healthier may need to consider multiple social determinants to enable successful implementation.