Path Dependent and Risk Averse: Is Retail Planning Inhibited by a Culture of Fear

Davies, Mark
(2019) Path Dependent and Risk Averse: Is Retail Planning Inhibited by a Culture of Fear. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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As new digital technology fundamentally changes the way people shop, retail firms are increasingly seeking to optimise their store portfolios so that they effectively support the provision of an omni-channel retail offer, which is leading to the decline of many traditional retail spaces. This thesis seeks to explore this issue, by considering why, in the face of such profound structural changes in retailing, the prevailing response of planners has been to re-emphasise support for 'town-centre-first', despite the fact that such an approach appears fundamentally misaligned with the issues that are driving decline today. Utilising a mixed methods approach, involving a detailed historical analysis of the evolution of retail planning in England and in-depth interviews with planners, this thesis seeks to understand why it is that town-centre-first continues to pervade as a strategic approach in retail planning. In doing so, it will be shown that retail planning exhibits evidence of having become path dependent, which, it is proposed, is reflective of an increasing tendency towards risk-averse decision-making in planning more widely. In considering why risk-aversion has become a dominant characteristic of decision making in retail planning, this thesis builds upon the small but growing body of literature, which proposes that 'fear', as an emotional state, has come to have a significant influence over the decision-making behaviour of planners. In doing so, it is argued that a culture of 'fear' within planning practice is acting to inhibit the development of radical solutions to the decline of high street and town centre environments, ultimately resulting in a continuation of existing strategic policy approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: retail, town centre, decline, high street, planning, fear, risk aversion, path dependence
Divisions: Fac of Science & Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2019 12:19
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2021 10:14
DOI: 10.17638/03059171