Economic Success Factors in Spanish
Small Retail Businesses. An Analysis
Based on Sector-Relative Definitions
Small Business Economics
15: 209–222, 2000.
2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
ABSTRACT. The purpose of this study was to carry out a
sectorial analysis of the strategic profile of successful small
businesses in Spanish retailing. First, a one-dimensional
statistical formalisation of the concept of small business was
proposed, based on yearly sales revenue and relative to the
sector. Likewise, some statistical formalisations of the concept
of economic success were proposed, based on profit margins
and also relativised according to sector. Once a conceptual
framework was established, a sectorial model of strategic
characterisation of successful small retailing firms was devel-
oped. The results of applying these proposals to the Spanish
retail industry confirmed the importance of a sectorial
approach as opposed to an overall analysis.
1. Introduction: objectives and content of
1. the study
Retail businesses acting within distribution
channels are becoming bigger and bigger as the
result of a process of association and integration
in the channel, leading to an increase in their
negotiating power as well. However, there are still
small businesses that remain successful in the
market. This set of organisations, the smallest
within each sector of retail activity, is the one dealt
with in this research. This study puts forward a
proposal for defining a successful Spanish small
business and identifying its strategic correlates.
The study is structured in the three stages indi-
cated in Figure 1. First, a one-dimensional statis-
tical formalisation is given of the concept of small
business. Secondly, economic success is defined.
Finally, and as the central focus of the research,
the strategic profile of successful small retail
businesses in Spain is analysed.
Unlike most of the research done along this
line, the present study is posed at the sectorial
level and the proposals of statistical formalisation
are based on criteria relativised to the sector. In
this sense, the definitions of both small retail
business and success depend on the activity
carried out by the firm.
In our opinion, the separate development and
exposition of each of the three stages described
will make them clearer and easier for the reader
to grasp. Therefore, after a brief description of the
data source used, the following sections will focus,
respectively, on each of the parts described above.
Final version accepted on October 25, 2000
Departamento de Análisis Económico y Contabilidad
Facultad de Economía y Empresa
Universidad de Salamanca
Campus Miguel de Unamuno
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Figure 1. Contents of the study.