The food superstore revolution: changing times, changing research agendas in the UK

Alan Hallsworth, Ronan de Kervenoal, Jonathan Elms, Catherine Canning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the changing scope of research into UK food superstores over some three decades. Rather than catalogue changing market shares by format, we seek instead to show how such change links to national policy agendas. Academic research has evolved to address the growing complexities of the social, technological, economic and political impacts of the superstore format. We exemplify this by tracing the progression of retail change in Portsmouth, Hampshire, over 30 years. We discover that academic research can conflict with the preconceptions of some public policy makers. The position is exacerbated by a progressive decline in public information – and a commensurate rise in factual data held by commercial data companies – that leaves policy makers with a choice of which data to believe. This problem casts a shadow over the objectivity of macro-policy as currently formulated. Concerns currently arise because the UK Competition Commission (2006–2009 but ongoing) starts each inquiry afresh with a search for recent data. Furthermore, it has recently called for changes to retail planning – the very arena in which UK superstore research commenced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Issue number1
Early online date18 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • superstores
  • long term change
  • choice
  • methodology
  • policy


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