An empirical investigation into the changes in the grocery retailing landscape: A Helsinki Metropolitan Region case study

James Culley

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


It has long been known that grocery retailing has undergone large changes in aspects such as the popularity of different store formats, driven in part by retailers thinking and in part by the behaviour of consumers. These changes have had big impacts on the distribution and variation in grocery store provision. There is an issue for retail decision-makers that if they use analyses from the macro-level to draw their conclusions these may not be the optimal solution for every location. The aim of this thesis is to identify whether aspects of the grocery retail landscape are spatially consistent and if not then, where possible, identify whether this spatial variation has been consistent through time. Taking the Helsinki Metropolitan Area as a case study we first analyse the supply of grocery retailing from 1981 to 2008. We then explore whether there is spatial heterogeneity in the demand for grocery retailing through consumers' decision-making. Many real estate economic studies focus on regular, aspatial methods. Conversely in retailing spatial methods are utilised but generally for a static time period. In this thesis we use a number of spatial, temporal and spatio-temporal methods to achieve our aims. We look at trends in the distribution of stores across the study period and whether this has been consistent. Our results show that there has been a great deal of change in the supply and distribution of grocery retailing to the HMA throughout the study period. In reality there has been large differences in locations levels of access to grocery stores of differing formats. We show that it is possible to take a large volume of results generated by our analyses and use this to classify the area into broad submarkets based upon the change in provision to grocery retailing. When we look at the demand for grocery retailing our results show that not all the variables that influence the decision-making of a consumer are heterogeneous in their spatial distribution.The results of this study highlight methods that can be used to explore in-depth how the provision of grocery retailing has evolved through time at the local level as well as present evidence of the importance of taking into account locational variability in consumers and their behaviour when making grocery retail based decisions.
Translated title of the contributionAn empirical investigation into the changes in the grocery retailing landscape - A Helsinki Metropolitan Region case study
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Virrantaus, Kirsi-Kanerva, Supervising Professor
  • Viitanen, Kauko, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8967-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8968-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • retail
  • grocery landscape
  • spatio-temporal analysis
  • real estate


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