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The meanings of informal and second-hand retail channels: some evidence from Leicester

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Conventionally, informal and/or second-hand channels were viewed as being used by disadvantaged consumers out of economic necessity. With the cultural turn in retail and consumer research however, a new reading has emerged that views participation in such channels to be broader and more a matter of choice. To evaluate these contrasting perspectives, data collected from 120 face-to-face interviews in the English city of Leicester is reported in this article. Finding that the agency-orientated view of such retail channels is valid in affluent populations - but economic necessity remains the principal motive amongst lower-income populations - this paper reconciles these contrasting readings of economic and cultural theorists through a both/and approach sensitive to the varying meanings of such practices in different populations.

Keywords: Consumption; cultural turn; retail sector; second-hand goods

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Reader in Economic Geography, Department of Geography University of Leicester Leicester LE1 7RH UK +44 0116 252 5242 2: Postgraduate Researcher, Department of Geography University of Leicester Leicester LE1 7RH UK +44 0116 252 5242

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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