Using GIS to Explore the Retail Structure of Market Towns in Ireland

Using GIS to Explore the Retail Structure of Market Towns in Ireland

Bill Dwan (Arthur Ryan Retail Centre, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jagr.2013010102
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The paper presents a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based approach to quantifying and comparing retail structures. It explores the retail landscape of the three largest market towns in County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland, namely: Clonmel, Thurles and Nenagh. The context for the study is provided through an overview of recent changes in the Irish retail sector, the dynamic of market towns and the associated challenges inherent in defining retail structure. Using demographic and retail store location data a demand threshold analysis is undertaken on custom-defined catchments for each market town (derived using a Huff Model). The paper highlights that applied GIS approaches can effectively be used to examine retail structure and to benchmark the relative under- or over-penetration of retail activity within a given set of markets. The paper also underlines the limitations inherent in such analysis and the need for high quality longitudinal data on retail demand and supply.
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Retail Structure

There are many and varied approaches to defining what is meant by ‘retail structure’ but in general they include both an industrial economic and a spatial economic component. The industrial economic component is concerned with industry configuration, specifically the numbers of stores and sales per capita (Ingene & Brown, 1987; Ingene, 1984; Ingene & Lusch 1981; Takeuchi & Bucklin, 1977), the characteristics of competitors and their inter-relationships (Miller et al., 1999; Hirschman, 1978) industry concentration (Daniel & Hernandez, 2006; Wrigley & Lowe, 2002; Akehurst, 1983, 1984), internationalization (Myers & Alexander, 2007; Hernandez, 2003; Wrigley & Lowe, 2002; Shackleton, 1996) and the regulatory framework (Wrigley & Lowe, 2002; Dawson & Sato, 1995). To understand the various meanings of retail structure it is useful to consider a number of definitions. Retail structure (Figure 1) has been defined as:

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