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Durham e-Theses
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A geographical study of retail trade and of business districts in English county towns - an examination of regional and urban variations

Thorpe, David (1963) A geographical study of retail trade and of business districts in English county towns - an examination of regional and urban variations. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis studies retailing in Great Britain, but its methods of approach and techniques of analysis may be extended to other countries. International comparisons, however, are notoriously difficult in the distributive trades, for both obvious and more obscure reasons. During the final stages of the compilation of the thesis such comparison has become possible as a result of the work of Jefferys and Knee* (Table A). This note attempts to interpret this standardised data, published in November 1962, in relation to the findings of the thesis as a whole. A major subject of study in this thesis is large shops (high average sales per retail establishment). Jefferys and Knee have suggested that variations between the countries of Europe might be explained in terms of four factors:-(a) The number of inhabitants per establishment.(b) The number of employees per establishment.(c) Private expenditure per capita.(d) The structure of the trade. This thesis has found that in Britain two particular factors account for the distribution of large shops: the importance of medium sized towns in the settlement pattern, and of multiple traders in the retail sales of an area. Diagrams A and B show the relationship of these two factors to the size of shops in those countries of Europe with annual per capita private consumption expenditure of over 415 dollars (the rest of Europe has too dissimilar economic landscapes to make comparison profitable).The relationship between the size of shop and the proportion of the population in towns between 20,000 and 100,000 is close for the countries of Northern Europe. Only three countries are notably divergent, having smaller shop than their urban structure would warrant. These are however Belgium, France and the Netherlands, suggesting that different consumption habits and economic conditions in this part of Europe are important. The second relationship is far less marked. A relationship does however exist if the Scandinavian countries are isolated from the rest of Europe, for in these countries the great importance of Co-operative Retailing makes comparisons based on trade structure somewhat unreal. Austria is an exception for which no ready explanation can be given. A direct relationship between the two variables exists in the cases of the U.K., Switzerland, West Germany, Netherlands, France and Ireland. Jefferys and Knee have given a descriptive account of the variations in the size of shops. If causal explanations are to be found it is essential to examine the geographical pattern of retailing, the towns in which most shopping takes place and where large scale organisations set up their branches. It is clear that in order to explain the regional variations noted above much detailed examination would be needed. The study of retailing is also seen to be relevant to the examination of regional patterns which may not other1vise statistically be apparent.* Jefferys, J .B. and Knee, D. Retailing in Europe: Present Structure and future trends. London 1962.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1963
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:22

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