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Title: The social effects of retail decentralisation : a multi-method impact assessment of the Merry Hill regional shopping centre, West Midlands
Author: Perkins, S. H.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1997
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There are few empirical studies of the long-term social effects of major off-centre retail development. This thesis provides an assessment of the impact of the Merry Hill regional shopping centre (RSC), near Dudley, West Midlands. Here, social impacts encompass changing retail provision in local town centres; the influence of the RSC on consumer behaviour; consumer perceptions of, and attitudes towards, traditional and innovative retailing in the locality; and the potential for consumer disadvantage as a result of RSC development. The diversity of social impacts is reflected in the adoption of a multi-method research strategy. A quantitative and qualitative assessment of structural and functional retail change in the towns of the study area provide an initial context. Then, a household questionnaire survey, comprising a variety of closed and open-ended questioning techniques, constitutes the main instrument in elucidating the social effects of the RSC. Finally, a purposefully selected sub-sample of potentially disadvantaged consumers are interviewed at length regarding their experiences of choice and constraint following the development of the RSC. A process of retail re-centralisation is identified, with a concentration of major multiple retailers at the geographic heart of the Dudley borough. The RSC has clearly influenced consumer behaviour in the sub-region, and a socially segmented hierarchy can be identified whereby mobile consumers heavily patronise the RSC, whilst car-less shoppers are constrained to the impacted town centres and more expensive local shops. The spiral of decline has largely been arrested in the impacted towns, and a complementary role assumed. The shopping needs and levels of expectation of many lower income consumers appear to be largely met by the restructured town centres. Although the RSC does not perform a role akin to a traditional town centre at present, the research indicates the potential to do so in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available