Systematic approaches for retail service location decisions
Eury, Robert M.
Rowe, Peter G.
Master of Architecture
This thesis investigates systems applications to community facility planning by focusing on the use of models in locating retail facilities. This approach was taken because a number of major concepts employed in retail location are directly transferable to most types of urban services where consumers may choose to utilize a number of different locations. A general decision making process for locating retail services is described. Review of the types of information needed by a retail location planner finds that the central issue he faces is estimating the sales volume of a proposed site. The effect of other competing locations, consumer preferences and accessibility make this task difficult without some type of systematic approach. This could be called the classical "problem" of retail location. An extensive search was made of the work of others related to this problem. A number of approaches were found which attempted to represent the interrelated elements of consumers, access, and retailers which constitute a retail system. No dominant theory has been developed in the area; instead, a number of individual lines of inquiry were found with similarities between. Several selected location models are then reviewed in application to specific problems. The major criticism provided focusses on the degree of difficulty model authors have in representing consumer-retailer behavior and the type of information required to support the modelling. It was found that no one type of model can be regarded as superior since each may have been developed for different planning applications which vary in type of retail service and geographic area represented. There are other steps in retail location decision making where further applications of systems approaches may be valuable. These include population and income forecasting for a small area and economic evaluation of location alternatives once gross sales have been estimated. Further development of these areas in conjunction with the retail models described is suggested. Finally, a number of concepts found in various approaches to retail location may have direct benefit in the successful application of planning standards commonly used by architects and urban designers. Insight gained through certain theoretical approaches to retail location imply that increased care should be taken in the derivation and application of meaningful planning standards.