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From Bricks to Clicks: The Impact of Online Retailing on Transport and the Environment

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Online retailing is growing fast and claims are being made about its positive environmental impact relative to traditional shopping, particularly by the retailers themselves. There is, however, little concrete evidence to support the claims. Whilst there exists some research into the passenger travel implications of e-shopping, this paper seeks to analyse the issues involved in online shopping from both a passenger and freight transport perspective. The objectives of the paper are first, to set out the complex transport relationships involved in online shopping and in particular the interaction between the passenger and freight aspects and second, to shed some light on the environmental impact of online shopping. It concludes that as things currently stand, it cannot be stated with any degree of certainty that clicks are any more environmentally responsible than bricks. The paper is conceptual in nature and is the pre-cursor to an empirical study of the issue.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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