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Retail parks revisited: A growing competitive threat to traditional shopping centres?

Thomas, Colin J.; Bromley, Rosemary D.F.; Tallon, Andrew


Colin J. Thomas

Rosemary D.F. Bromley


Since the late 1970s retail parks have developed in the United Kingdom to become a substantial element of the process of retail decentralisation. From an early focus on 'bulky-goods' retailing, they have grown and evolved into a variety of unplanned and planned forms, the largest of which can be characterised as 'hybrid regional centres'. The more recent addition of typical 'high-street' retailers to their functions has earned the epithet 'fashion parks'. Intermittent concern has been expressed at the likely negative effects that these phenomena are having on the traditional system of city, town, and district shopping centres in British cities. In these circumstances it is surprising that little of the recent retail impact research has focused on the larger retail parks. Partially to redress this deficiency, the authors investigate the impact of a large unplanned retail park on the retail system of the Greater Swansea area. The evidence suggests that the greatest impact continues to be focused on the middle-order district and local town centres. The relationship is now 'strongly competitive' rather than 'benignly complementary'. At the same time, the growth in scale and functional diversity of the retail park suggests a strong 'competitive erosion' of the status of the city centre. Thus, local authorities concerned for the future of their city, town, and district shopping centres should view processes operating within the shopping centre development industry in association with the location and marketing strategies of the principal 'high-street' multiple retailers with considerable caution.


Bromley, R. D., Thomas, C. J., & Tallon, A. (2004). Retail parks revisited: A growing competitive threat to traditional shopping centres?. Environment and Planning A, 36(4), 647-666.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2004
Journal Environment and Planning A
Print ISSN 0308-518X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 4
Pages 647-666
Keywords retail parks, shopping centres, consumers
Public URL
Publisher URL