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Modelling the future opportunities for deep discount food retailing in the UK

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In the last few years, the discount retail food market in the UK has grown to record levels. This followed a period of gradual increase in store numbers and also more favourable trading characteristics for discounters given the recession and global financial problems of the late 2000s. Although market share dipped a little in 2010, the deep discounters still have impressive growth plans for their UK store networks. Given this context, the aim of this paper is twofold. First, we wish to explore the recent growth of the discounters in the UK and analyse the dynamics of customer patronage based on geodemographics in the late 2000s using data from Acxiom's Research Opinion Poll survey. We believe that this fills a major gap in the literature as there has been little reported on the spatial expansion of discounters since work in the 1990s (especially in the UK). Second, we wish to use this geodemographic analysis to look for potential new sites for discount retailers in two selected areas of the UK. The geodemographic analysis will be supplemented by more detailed revenue forecasting obtained from a retail location model. Again, there is little in the literature using spatial analysis to look for market opportunities in this way. We also introduce a novel method for validating retail models using the Acxiom data. The study areas are Yorkshire and Humber, and London, two very different regions in terms of current discount retail market share. The research shows that there are still opportunities for growth in so-called saturated markets especially if the retailers concerned consider a potential expansion into ‘middle’ Britain, moving the focus from deep discounting to serving more middle markets (a potential change in the value-platform growth strategies through which companies such as Aldi now seem to be championing).

Keywords: deep discounters; geodemographics; retail growth; spatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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