GEM, 1964-1966: Britain's first out-of-town retailer

Whysall, P., 2005. GEM, 1964-1966: Britain's first out-of-town retailer. International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 15 (2), pp. 111-124. ISSN 0959-3969

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The view of successive waves of retail decentralisation provided by Schiller (1986) provides a powerful metaphor for out-of-town retail developments in the United Kingdom. Yet, even before the first wave of food superstores, there had been other examples of off-centre retailing of which the GEM store, which opened at West Bridgford, Nottingham in 1964, was the first. However, that store was a collection of licencees operating as a quasi-department store, rather than a true superstore or hypermarket. This paper investigates the GEM store through its planning and construction phases, and reflects on responses to its opening and experiences during the early period of trading, culminating in it being acquired by ASDA Stores in 1966. Attempts are made to assess local impacts, which, while somewhat hampered by scarce data resources, suggest that adverse effects were limited, and that local shopping provision has managed to prosper and diversify alongside the GEM/ASDA development. More recently, the site has become subject of major redevelopment proposals, and the planning processes associated with this newest phase are contrasted with those for the original store. The paper concludes that the original store concept and style of trading reflected the very different social, economic, legal and retail environments of the mid-1960s, although some themes (such as an early attempt to promote leisure retailing) have familiar echoes today. It seems that public concern, awareness, and influence over retail planning is far more sophisticated now than had been the case in the 1960s.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Creators: Whysall, P.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Place of Publication: Abingdon
Date: 2005
Volume: 15
Number: 2
ISSN: 0959-3969
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:23
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:09

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