ERES 2022: The Adaptiveness of the Retail Property Market in the UK. A mixed method study of change

Event Start Date:
22nd June 2022
Event End Date:
25th June 2022
Event Venue:
28th Annual ERES Conference, Milan, Italy, 22-25 June 2022

The Adaptiveness of the Retail Property Market in the UK. A mixed method study of change

ERES 2022, Milan, Italy

Allison M.Orr[1] , Alan Gardner[1] , Cath Jackson[2] , Victoria Lawson[1], Joanna Stewart[1] and James T. White[1]


The retailing industry in the UK is experiencing unprecedented structural change, evidenced through increasing occupier business failures, vacancies, uncertainty and instability on the High Street. The global pandemic of the early 2020s has served to accelerate the already established changes in consumer behaviour. The impacts on retailers and local services have often dominated headlines, but little attention has been given to the implications for the property market. Exploring and understanding the responsiveness of the property market, in terms of, for instance, property use, retail market practices, and social structures, is essential to understanding the adaptive capacity of urban retailing centres.

This paper presents the findings of a large-scale mixed method study investigating the changes experienced across five UK case study cities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Liverpool and Nottingham). Drawing on complex systems theory as a conceptual framework, and developing detailed databases for each city, the research begins by examining the relationship between diversity and adaptive capacity within the adaptive cycle of urban retailing centres, spanning a period of almost two decades (2000-2017). This provides understanding of how land use diversity has been evolving and responding to endogenous and exogenous shocks.

Using thematic analysis, the study then draws on the key themes that emerge from three separate work streams examining different aspect of property market. Included in this discussion are the adaptations being experienced in retail asset use, design, management and ownership, connections to the experiential economy, and the social relations of key stakeholders, before reflecting on how these factors interact to create unique retailing destinations and facilitate, or hinder, adaptive capacity.


[1]  Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow

[2] Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield

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