chapter  8
12 Pages

The desire to disperse

In describing the reasons for clustering in the last chapter it was argued that the journey undertaken to go shopping involves making an investment in time and money, and that having made that investment the shopper did not want to waste it by visiting a retail concentration which offered insufficient choice. If, however, the items on the shopper’s list are regarded as routine and do not need time spent in choosing them as they did in our example of the wedding present, then the danger of disappointment becomes less. In this case the main concern is to reduce the effort of the journey. When the shopper knows precisely what to buy together with the price and specification that go with it, then shopping is simply a matter of acquiring it with the minimum effort. One way to do this is to stay at home and use mail order, direct mail or the Internet, but if a physical journey is involved then the objective is to minimise the effort of the trip, and this can involve preferring a dispersed location to the town centre. Traditionally the town centre offers both choice and convenience because there all the items on the shopper’s list were near each other. Now, however, car ownership has freed the shopper to visit dispersed locations which are more accessible than the town centre with easier parking and lower prices.