Joris BECKERS, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
The unbundling of retail activities in the post war period, following urban sprawl, has been described extensively in the literature. The impacts on retail accessibility in general, and the provision of healthy food in less-affluent urban areas in particular, i.e. food deserts, are a well-known phenomenon.
This paper updates this research by quantifying the dual impact of the rise of e-commerce. While e-commerce holds the promise of increasing consumer accessibility, its impact on physical retail may cancel out this advantage. The dual impact is assessed through the calculation of a multi-dimensional retail accessibility measure. This measure extends traditional retail accessibility (e.g. as proposed by Hansen) by including both the physical (i.e. accessibility to physical shops) and the digital component (i.e. accessibility to e-commerce delivery solutions, like pickup points).
Data input comes from retail databases (e.g. Locatus); and data on logistics infrastructures and delivery costs (cf. Beckers et al., 2021; Cardenas et al., 2017). The resulting measure is calculated for the study area (Belgium) via a thorough socio-economic analysis. This results in a critical reflection on social exclusion and retail & logistics justice.