Profiling Consumer Attitudes to Retail Spaces: Shopping Centres As 'Place'

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This article was originally published as:

Williams, A., Brewer, G., Ostwald, M. & Le Goff, R. (2013). Profiling consumer attitudes to retail spaces: Shopping centres as 'place'. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies, 7(2), 41-52.

ISSN: 2324-7649



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This paper identifies and describes shoppers’ attitudes and behaviours in relation to retail environments. It maps the profiles of shoppers, identifying significant changes, including the growth of mixed development and ‘green’ retailing. The literature is used to identify and define the attitudes and behaviours that characterise shoppers' interaction with Australian shopping malls. These are then used to inform the design and conduct of research involving eight focus groups of consumers in two tightly defined geographical areas. Each investigation is analysed using appropriate qualitative or quantitative techniques and the results thereafter interpreted and explained. Results show that there are significant differences in shoppers' attitudes to retail experiences and the spaces in which they occur. These vary according to gender, age, level of household income, occupation and level of education. Moreover, these differences are interrelated, rendering their implications for retailers similarly complex. This paper proposes that designs of retail spaces are only economically justifiable if they provide an acceptable mix of experiences for the full range of consumers using them. Understanding the complex interplay between the expectations of the various consumer groups and their consequent requirements is central to decision-making in this regard. This research is part of a larger study, believed to be the first critical analysis of Australian consumer attitudes towards retail spaces in terms of demographic groups. The ideas presented in this study could have wide-reaching possibilities for empirical studies on the socio-cultural role of malls, outside of Australia.


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At the time of publication Anthony Williams was affiliated with Avondale College of Higher Education.