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Changes in retail shopping behaviour in the aftermath of an earthquake

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Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand with a pre-earthquake population of 376,700, was rattled by two major earthquakes in a span of 6 months from September 2010. With significant loss of life, collapsed buildings and damaged infrastructure, consumers were confronted with the notion that retail spaces, in the event of an earthquake, had the potential to be unsafe and a source of potential personal harm. This paper presents the results of a qualitative study that explored how consumers modified their retail shopping behaviour following a sequence of earthquake events over the 2010/2011 timeframe in Christchurch, New Zealand. Participants discussed a range of issues, including their experiences with the earthquakes, and the changes they had to make to their shopping activities in order to adapt to their new circumstances. The findings of this study have implications for any setting where shoppers are affected by unexpected events beyond their control and where an impression of personal danger suddenly becomes associated with their day-to-day shopping activities.

Keywords: earthquakes; natural disasters; shopper behaviour

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand 2: Department of Marketing, Advertising, Retailing, and Sales, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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