February 12, 2010

Groceries, groceries and yet more groceries

Since the comparison between grocery stores and bars helped identify the beer belly of America, we thought it would be worthwhile to check out the distribution of grocery stores in general.

Unfortunately we were wrong. It is really rather uninteresting.

Don't even look at this map showing the absolute number of mentions of grocery stores in the Google Maps directly. It simply shows that they are everywhere that people are. DON'T LOOK!

Absolute Number of Grocery Stores Listed in the Google Maps Directory

Even when we normalize the data to create a measure of grocery store specialization, we end up with a big YAWN. Urban areas have more grocery stores per capita than rural areas.

Relative Number of Grocery Stores Listed in the Google Maps Directory

No doubt tied to the higher division of labor (e.g., more specialty grocery stores) that large centers of population have as well as the fact that urban areas have higher land costs and fewer available large parcels that results in a built environment of more (albeit smaller) establishments.

Wow… it's rather sad that we spent as much energy as we did to create this. It's boring. Much like the act of shopping for groceries. But like grocery shopping, it needs to be done. But hopefully by someone else, next time.

Apologies all around. Next post we'll show more interesting like urban maps of user generated references to crime or distribution of escort services…stay tuned.


  1. Considering how popular your blog is, I can't help but wonder: Do you ever read other people's blogs, or do you just bask in the glory of having one of the most popular blogs on Blogger? Food for thought.

  2. not much to say to this, other than, neat.

  3. Oh my goodness, this is fantastic. I live in Los Angeles and I can't tell you how many times I pass by numerous Ralphs, Vons, Gelsons, Albertsons, and Food4Lesses and seriously ask myself why the need to have so many. They all sell the same crap.

    I enjoy your maps! This is my first time visiting your blog, but it would be interesting to do one of cinemas as well. I think it would look much like this supermarket map as well!


  4. I work at a supermarket. It is not fun... :/. The relative map look pretty accurate as well haha

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  6. Where do you get all this information?

  7. I think the problem is scale -- if you zoom in enough you start to see a lot of inequities in the distribution of grocery stores at the local/neighborhood level, especially in (surprise!) poor, urban, communities of color. Of course, those folks might not exactly be using Google to find their nearest food store either, which is a data issue for you guys.


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