Central Place Practice: Shopping Centre Attractiveness Measures, the ‘Break Point’, Catchment Boundaries and the UK Retail Hierarchy

  • Charles Dennis


The previous chapter, Chapter 5, explored the effects of distance on ‘Why people shop where they do?’ — not only travel distance/time but also individual perceptions that may equate to social or cultural distance. This chapter uses the author’s empirically based measurement system for the attractiveness of shopping centres, in- and out-of-town, developed in Chapter 4 above, with a view to modelling and predicting positions in the retail hierarchy. A greater understanding of the hierarchy can add to an understanding of essential spatial aspects of why people shop where they do, not least, catchment area boundaries. The chapter proceeds as follows. Firstly, a theory of retail hierarchy — Central Place Theory — is briefly outlined. The development of the author’s attractiveness model follows and the model is used, in case study examples, to define steps in the retail hierarchy, based on shoppers’ choice behaviour. Scales proposed by other researchers are examined and it is demonstrated that such scales can be modified in the light of the empirical research. The unified attractiveness scale used in Chapter 4 above is demonstrated to have utility in predicting catchment boundaries, consistent with the principles of Central Place Theory. Next, ‘Break point’ theory is re-examined in the light of the attractiveness measurements and variable distance exponents (discussed in the previous chapter, Chapter 5).


Break Point Central Place Shopping Centre Trip Purpose Drive Time 
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Copyright information

© Charles Dennis 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Dennis
    • 1
  1. 1.Brunel UniversityLondonUK

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