Why Do People Use Alternative Retail Channels? Some Case-Study Evidence from Two English Cities

14 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2015

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

With the cultural turn/s in urban studies, participation in alternative retail channels (i.e. informal and/or second-hand modes of goods acquisition) has been reconceptualised as motivated more by the search for fun, sociality, distinction, discernment, the spectacular and so forth rather than by economic necessity. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically this view. Drawing upon 511 interviews conducted in affluent and deprived neighbourhoods of two English cities, this is found to reflect accurately the meanings that relatively affluent populations attach to their usage of alternative retail channels. However, economic necessity remains the principal reason amongst lower-income urban populations who view their reliance on such channels when the majority does not as a sign of their exclusion from mainstream consumption practices. The paper thus concludes by calling for greater sensitivity to economic processes and recognition of the socio-spatial variations in the meanings of such channels.

Keywords: Informal sector, household work practices, livelihoods, economic development, England

JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin, Why Do People Use Alternative Retail Channels? Some Case-Study Evidence from Two English Cities (2002). Urban Studies, Vol. 39, No. 10, 2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708016

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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