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2022/09: (IN)convenient stores? What do policies pushing stores to town centres actually do?

England´s Town Centre First Policy, introduced in 1996, restricted the opening of new retail and other ‘traditional town centre activities’ to ‘Town Centre’ (TC) locations. The aim was to halt the decay of high streets. We explore the impact of the policy on the supply and location of grocery shops and patterns of shopping by comparing English with Scottish TCs before and after the policy change in England. Using store level census data, we show first that supply trends for grocery stores in TCs were similar in both countries prior to the implementation of the policy. After the policy took effect, however, stores in TCs increased relatively more strongly in England, but with no change in grocery employment. Second, using survey data, we show that the policy changed the composition of shops in TCs in favour of convenience-type shops supplied by the “big four” grocery chains. However, although it increased the number of TC shops, the policy had no effect on the number of shoppers choosing TC locations.

2022/08: The role of historic amenities in shaping cities

The existence of amenities matters to understanding people’s residential choices. Our theoretical model extends the standard urban model by introducing exogenous amenities to explain population allocation within cities. To estimate the model predictions, we focus on historic amenities using detailed geolocated data for 579 European cities. We analyze how the shape of city centers endowed or not endowed with these amenities is affected. We measure historic amenities with the location of buildings from the Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance-Baroque periods. Our results show that cities with historic buildings in their centers have steeper population density gradients, are more compact and centralized, and have been less affected by the suburbanization processes caused by transportation improvements. Heterogeneity analyses show that the quantity and the quality of historic buildings also matter. Several robustness checks controlling for natural and modern amenities and testing for the spatial scope of these amenities verify our main results.

Segú, Mariona

Seminar: Yanos Zylberberg (University of Bristol) – “The Death and Life of Great British Cities”



JUNE 13-14, 2022

HYBRID SEMINAR: Pierre Magontier (Center for Regional Economic Development (CRED) at the University of Bern) – “The Unintended Consequences of Post-Disaster Policies for Spatial Sorting”