From social welfare to superstore everywhere: changing times, changing research agendas in UK big box retailing
Hallsworth, Alan and Jouan de Kervenoael, Ronan and Elms, Jonathan and Canning, Catherine (2009) From social welfare to superstore everywhere: changing times, changing research agendas in UK big box retailing. In: 15th Conference of the European Association for Education and Research in Commercial Distribution (EAERCD), Surrey, United Kingdom
This paper considers the changing scope of research into UK food superstores over a 30-year period. Rather than catalogue changing market shares by format, we seek instead to show how change links to national policy agendas. Academic research has evolved to address the growing complexities of the social, technological, economic and political impacts of the superstore format. We exemplify this by tracing the progression of retail change in Portsmouth, Hampshire, over 30 years. We discover that academic research can conflict with the preconceptions of some public policymakers. The position is exacerbated by a progressive decline in public information -and a commensurate rise in factual data held by commercial data companies - that leaves policymakers with a choice of which data to believe. This casts a shadow over the objectivity of macro-policy as currently formulated. Concerns currently arise because the UK Competition Commission (2008 but ongoing) starts each inquiry afresh with a search for recent data. Furthermore, it has recently called for changes to retail planning – the very arena in which UK superstore research commenced.
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