Service centres in metropolitan areas: a study of trends, including aspects of environmental design
The thesis presented is that current trends in shopping habits within affluent urbanised societies are well enough defined to significantly guide planners in the selection of optimum locations and designs for planned service centres within metropolitan areas. Changing shopping habits and changes in the retail industry are closely inter-related. This cyclic relationship between the consumer and the retailer is further actuated by changes within the metropolitan system and by the prevailing economic situation. An appreciation of these factors may allow the optimum location and form of service centres, at any one time, to be identified. Whilst long term forecasting should be avoided, it is possible to show that through a study of metropolitan areas and their major subsidiary centres, the apparent trends in consumer behaviour and the action of the retailer, it is feasible to discuss the emerging pattern of service centres within metropolitan areas with some confidence. The research supporting the writer's thesis includes a detailed critical appraisal of trends, over the last twenty years or so, in both consumer behaviour and the retail industry. A longitudinal series of surveys undertaken by the writer supplies further evidence of the changing shopping habits of consumers in part of a large metropolitan area. These surveys, the methodology of which is fully explained, also indicate the impact of a planned regional shopping centre within a metropolitan area. In discussing trends in the design of service centres certain aspects of the physical environment at selected centres are critically examined, and some general comparisons made by the use of abstracted plans drawn at the same scale and by photographs. The attractiveness" of a shopping centre to consumers may depend in part on the environmental amenity of the centre. It is suggested that this notion should be explored further by future research.