Why Do People Use Alternative Retail Channels? Some Case-Study Evidence from Two English Cities
14 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2002
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: Suggested Citation