Rural Retailing: a sector in decline?


Paddison A & Calderwood E (2007) Rural Retailing: a sector in decline?. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 36 (2), pp. 136-155.

Purpose – The paper reviews dynamic forms of rural retailing, by location, that have innovated through a mixture of actions leading to growth, adaptation, diversification and differentiation. Design/methodology/approach – Reviews relevant academic literature and draws upon contemporary policy-related material that details recent innovation within the sector. A rural retail typology by location is presented: retailing within market towns, village shops and stand-alone retailing forms (farm shops and speciality rural retail outlets). Findings – Since the nature together with form of what characterises dynamic and innovative rural retailing differs by location, the typology is based on the above schema. First, market towns have used growth and differentiation opportunities as strategic foci. Secondly, innovative village shops have applied strategies that seek to counter their structural weaknesses, harness the community and yield new revenue streams. Thirdly, the manner in which stand-alone retailing forms, such as farm shops together with speciality rural retail outlets, have grown and developed is reviewed. Practical implications – Reviewing dynamic forms of rural retailing allows for a greater understanding of the operational needs for success. Home (2002) cited a lack of relevant research. Examples are illustrated in Tables I and II. Originality/value – Stereotyping rural retailing is erroneous since marginalised enterprises are juxtaposed against more innovative forms. Contrary to perceptions of rural decline, the sector is multi-faceted with prospering sub-sectors. The paper focuses on these more dynamic and innovative forms of rural retailing. Much of the previous focus in this sector has been on negative issues and decline (Vias, 2004). A synthesis of the key contributory phenomena is presented (Table III)

rural retailing; growth; adaptation; diversification; differentiation

International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management: Volume 36, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2007