30 years of retail change: where (and how) do you shop?

Jonathan Elms, Catherine Canning, Ronan De Kervenoael, Paul Whysall, Alan Hallsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent of retail change in the UK grocery sector over the last 30 years.
Design/methodology/approach – In 1980, a press article by Richard Milner and Patience Wheatcroft attempted to anticipate retail change by 1984. Taking that as a template, the paper examines how retail did, in fact, change over a much longer timescale: with some unanticipated innovations in place even by 1984. Reference is made to academic research on grocery retailing in progress at the time and which has recently been revisited.
Findings – Although Milner and Wheatcroft tackled the modest task of looking ahead just four years, the content of their article is intriguingly reflective of the retail structure and systems of the UK at the time. Whilst some innovations were not anticipated, the broad themes of superstore power and market regulation still command attention 30 years on.
Originality/value – Through reconsidering 30 years of retail change, the paper highlights that with time how do you shop has come to pose at least as interesting a question as where do you shop.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-827
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • competition
  • consumer behaviour
  • retailing
  • shopping
  • United Kingdom
  • stores and supermarkets


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