If tomorrow hyper/supermarket physically disappear : the walls and merchandise in it. Not shopkeeper or merchant. A supermarket is a store with a sales area of 400 square meters or more and selling predominantly food. An hypermarket is bigger than a supermarket.

People working in supermarket are still alive but they don't have any job. Suppliers have commodity but no supermarket to delivery. People (like you and I) now can't buy usual stuff at supermarket but we can still access to merchants (little one). We can't build any new supermarket, or it disapears tomorrow. We can't gros regular markets to bigger, or they disappear too.

How could we now react, according to our environment : townsfolk or countryman, according to our education/knowledge : i can't hunt nor fish.

Would we turn us to "short-circuit" (directly from productor, farmer), would we (re)start to garden and raise animals or would we promote shopkeeper again ?

How could the current man consume again correctly whithin this new distribution and so, production system ?


  • $\begingroup$ What happens to the distribution networks? If those are still intact, it will be a few days at most until everything is back to "normal", only in a temporary space with some enterprising people having set up new shops $\endgroup$
    – Cyrus
    Jun 23 '16 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ I guess hypermarkets and regular markets would have more supply. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 '16 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Distributions networks work again well but can't delivery to supermarket. They have to flow out their merchandise to "regular markets", the small ones, which can't buy all the merchandise and manage all the potentials customers : they are smaller markets. $\endgroup$
    – gael
    Jun 23 '16 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ If the small shops are still around then whoever captalizes on it will become a supermarket it would take them a couple of years but it would happen. Supermarkets were a small shop before they got big so small shops can become big $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Burns
    Jun 23 '16 at 14:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The answers to these questions depend substantially on why this one facet of our society dissapeared. The most trivial example is that, if tomorrow every supermarket closes, the day after that, people would open a bunch of supermarkets. If some new event (such as a law being passed) prevents a class of activities that includes the running of supermarkets, people will try to find the path of least resistance skirting the law. Maybe we open up a bunch of "convenience stores" that conveniently happen to have a lot of foods. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jun 23 '16 at 14:28

I'll break this down a bit as there will be stages to an event like this happening.

I will be placing this in the UK as no country was specified

A few hours after the supermarkets disappear

Media cover would be all over the place, when people see this they will rush to the nearest place that sells food (go for the canned food, it lasts longer) and raid it, nearly all small stores would be looted and a large amount of damaged caused to the store in the process.

The public services, Police/NHS (possibly fire brigade but unlikely, they are more likely to help with helping locals with minor issues) will be bombarded with calls, either about "why this is happening?", "Where can I get food/supplies?" etc etc.

A day after the event

The Government would do nothing for a few days till people came banging on their doors pitch-fork-in-hand likely have local police (possibly the army if things get real bad) handing out rations and to keep peace best they can. Police would have to be more lenient with people as the lost of an immediate food souce would scare people and they wouldnt be thinking straite.

There would be a few deaths but they would be few and most wouldnt be caused directly by the supermarkets disappearing

A few more days after the event

Google defines a supermarket as:

a large self-service shop selling foods and household goods

So, after a few places try to setup their own supermarkets and they disappear people would rely on either food only shops(Butchers and the like) to get food/get food directly from a supplier/looting from other people (Doubt that this would happen but some people may do it)

The initial shock would have worn off by then and people would start going back to work (most would do this reluctantly as they need money). The disapperance of supermarkets wouldnt impact too many jobs, but if you are working in a supermarket you better fire up that CV as you are going to need it.

(I was going to list a % of the job in the UK that are directly related to supermarkets but a quick search brought nothing up, if anyone has this please link in the comments)

A week after the event (maybe a bit longer, its your time scale)

People are resigned to the fact they no longer have supermarkets for convenience.

The Government would have issued a statment (several of them proberly) stating what is going on and how people can get food/clothing and all manner of items supplied by suppermarkets.

Suppliers would have a huge increase price (their demand would be abount the same but it would be thousands of individual orders rather than 1 big one, their logistics will have a headache for a while)

After it all life would continue as normal, we have lived for a few thousand years without them, if they just change form it wouldnt cause any long lasting damage (suppermarket to Supplier)


Before I give an answer, I would like to point out that it is just one of many possible ways things could go. I've got my opinion on the most likely course of actions, but never underestimate the creativity of people, especially in a crisis. You may find many alternate paths.

The first thing to note is that the food distribution system in modern nations has a lot of inertia. It's not going to change overnight, even if you pelt it with magic. Any system with inertia will tend towards the smallest changes needed to incorporate the new conditions. You have a supermarket system designed to take food from farmers, and give it to people who are hungry. Everyone wants this to keep happening. It will keep happening.

I would expect the supermarkets to react almost instantly. They would talk with the landowners they lease from, and get permission to sublet the market. They would then subdivide the area into smaller shops, each under 400 square meters. Now we no longer have a supermarket, we have a bazaar, sidestepping the magic rules preventing supermarkets. The supermarket owners are now merely food distribution specialists. They may have to maintain a separate 400 square meter building to do business with all the new shop-owners subletting from them and using their inventory, but it all fits in the rules! (I warned you about how carefully rules have to be worded)

After a while, you will see changes. Eventually the guy who gets to sell milk and eggs is going to be the subject of envy from the poor soul who's stuck selling stuff in the paper goods isle. The right to sell high profit foods will shake things up eventually. There's a lot of paths I could see it taking, but I think the most likely result would be the different shops on the bazaar breaking down along ethnicity lines. This would be more customer friendly than having to shop at 50 different shops in a single trip to get all the individual ingredients you need for a dish. It also would help with quality control, letting each ethnicity manage the needs of their own foodstuffs.

The long term outcome depends on many factors not seen here, but most important would be how people feel about said magical intervention. If they're bitter that magic is getting in the way of their lives, you'd find many more rules lawyers like myself cropping up to exploit the tiniest quirks in the magical law, trying to bring society back as close as possible to before the supermarkets disappeared. They might gang together to allow customers to buy from many shops, but "check out" at one common place of monetary exchange near the front of the bazaar.

On the other hand, if the magic came from a loving Gaia character that calls on us to become closer to the Earth, we might heed that call. We may allow the structure of our cities to erode, just a little bit, to better flow with nature.


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