One of the big four supermarkets gets planning permission every working day of the year and at least 577 Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda stores have been approved over the last two years.
The figures, collected for a BBC Panorama special this evening, give some sense of the scale of supermarket development activity in Britain, even though the big grocers already operate thousands of outlets in the country.
The data was gathered from planning authorities, but not all responded, meaning the Panorama figures may be an underestimate.
The research shows that of the four, Tesco is leading the way – with 392 stores approved over the last two years.
Sainsbury's came in second with 111, Morrisons third with 41 and Asda fourth with 33.
The figures cover the whole range of outlets, from the smallest "metro" stores to the largest out-of-town hypermarkets.
London has seen most stores approved – at 110. Birmingham and Glasgow will have 15 new stores, Leicester 12 and 11 each in Leeds and Bristol.
There will be 10 in Durham, while Northern Ireland, Edinburgh and Nottingham will each have 8.
Retail analyst Dave McCarthy of Evolution Securities has also noted the rapid pace of openings and warned of a "space race" as the big four seek to add as much as 5m sq ft (460,000 square metres) of space a year for the next few years.
The programme also questions how supermarkets are weathering the storm of surging commodity prices, and focuses on their attempts to reduce their supplier base to buy at cheaper prices from fewer, larger firms.
That has seen the arrival of farms such as Nocton Dairies, a huge dairy firm proposed for Lincolnshire, in which cows would be milked 24 hours a day on a revolving "dairy-go-round".
The programme looks at Nocton as well as Planet Thanet, a hydroponic greenhouse complex that is the biggest in Europe.
Critics say the growth of the supermarkets and their relentless focus on price is damaging the natural environment. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall told the programme: "Such is the power of the supermarkets, they are effectively rearranging the entire landscape to suit their business practices.
You don't need to explain the attraction of cheap food, everybody likes saving money, but the effect of that simple drive to bring down price – it's massively altering the way we produce food, the scale on which we produce food.
This is costing us in our landscape, this is costing us our, our food culture, this is, this is changing, the quality of the land that we walk on, potentially even the quality of the air that we breathe. I mean, this is big stuff."
The British Retail Consortium said today there was no evidence to suggest supermarket expansion was quickening, and pointed to Verdict research that shows steady growth over the last 10 years.
The BRC also questioned the relevance of the planning data.
Retail is a property-intensive business, a spokesman said, so it is no surprise the supermarkets are involved with plenty of planning applications.
BRC spokesman Stephen Robinson defended the grocers' sourcing and supply chains: "What supermarkets have done is produce a fantastic range of quality food at very affordable prices.
What we do know that in the last 10 years there's been modest, consistent expansion.
But remember this brings in investment to parts of Britain – this brings jobs, training and it also provides choice to customers.
At the end of the day customers don't want to shop somewhere they don't have to, we don't force them."
In response to the charge the supermarkets are destroying the high street he said: "I think that's not to do with supermarkets or any other one sector.
You might as well choose the internet and accuse that of having closed shops on the high street."
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