1998 volume 30(1) pages 49 – 66

Cite as:
Langston P, Clarke G P, Clarke D B, 1998, "Retail saturation: the debate in the mid-1990s" Environment and Planning A 30(1) 49 – 66

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Retail saturation: the debate in the mid-1990s

P Langston, G P Clarke, D B Clarke

Received 19 February 1997; in revised form 26 June 1997

Abstract. In an earlier paper we presented a picture of the provision of British food retail floor-space which was attentive to both the debate on retail saturation and the underlying competitive processes shaping the geography of the grocery sector. There we argued that there was still considerable variation in the provision of food retailing floor-space in the United Kingdom, with analyses presented at the regional (county), interurban, and intraurban levels. We concluded that saturation can only ever be a local phenomenon and that there was still considerable potential for retail expansion. However, we also suggested that such expansion was unlikely to occur without a notable degree of change in the complexion of the sector. The aim of this paper is to update that analysis and to present arguments pertaining to food retail change during the middle of this decade -- that is, following the property crisis that halted the earlier 'golden age' of store expansion -- by focusing on recent change in terms of both retail fascia and locality.

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