The location of the retail activities in cities can only be understood when you know the logics guiding the citizens. So each city is a special territory, even if some logics can be defined as common to nearly all of them.
Citizens use to get out of their homes every day for several reasons; some get out only to shop, but the most usually have other reasons. As they care for their time, they often are only ready to get out for just one reason when they are going to something that produces a satisfaction or is an obligation (earn money, honor your obligations with others…). Anyway, it is common to see that a same trip is used for more than one purpose.
Buying things can go from a repetitive daily chore to an exciting experience, and this is not just the result of the shop’s qualities, but also of the stuff they sell. Not only its nature (meat, reading stuff, hardware…) but also its price and quality, or if it is fashionable or not. So, we could define the problem by a combination of:
– Matters in which the buyer has (at least some degree of) control
- What to buy and when
- Where to buy (+1)
- Get out just for shopping or going to buy along with other trip motivations (+2)
- Routes buyer follows when moving around the city (+3)
- How much time to spend in buying the thing (+4)
– Matters in which the buyer has no control, but which influence his decisions:
- Features of the sales space (+5)
- Quality of the salesman
- Qualities of the product
As an urban planner, in this post I will talk about the items marked with an (+)
(+1) The fact that this is the central issue does not make it less dependent from the rest…
(+2)Usually related to the kind of goods; for special and emotional goods, it is easier to make an exclusive trip, but buying your daily bread and a night meal can be done on the way home from work.
(+3) Daily itineraries are a window on many things offered by the city
(+4) It usually takes longer (and you are prone to go longer distances) to choose a good, special thing
(+5) An attractive shop attracts (as reiterative a sentence as true it is…)
And how do you see all this in a real city, as, for instance, Madrid?
Madrid is an European city with an urban core in which substantial amounts of money have been spent during the last century to allow the access by car or public transportation systems. Each day thousands of people enter the city or move around it to work, study, pay their taxes, take the dog to the veterinary, meet their love, demonstrate… they all see billboards in the underground or the streets, and several shops, of all sizes and kinds, along their routes.
It is relevant to know:
Where people live
Where people work
How they move
Where are the shops, not only as a whole but also by typologies