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Capturing the vibrancy of the British retail landscape through new forms of data

Project Description

ESRC UCL, Bloomsbury, East London Doctoral Training Partnership Co-funded PhD studentship at the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) in collaboration with the Local Data Company (LDC).

This award is open to applicants with backgrounds in quantitative social science and related disciplines, such as geography, social statistics, political science, economics, applied mathematics, planning or sociology. Students will be expected to work with consumer data as part of an exciting multidisciplinary research centre.

It is clear that consumer behaviour in the UK is changing with dramatic and profound consequences for the economy and for society. For example, in recent months Marks & Spencer has announced store closures, Homebase is to close 42 outlets and cut many head office jobs, and House of Fraser has been purchased by Sports Direct. These developments are symptomatic of major structural changes in the service and leisure sectors; in 2018 alone, there have been over 30,000 job losses in retailing and a negative £1.5bn hit on GDP. It is therefore becoming critical that all stakeholders in business and service planning better understand changes in the nature of consumer behaviour with respect to a full range of goods and services. It is also crucial that academic researchers seek to understand these changes through partnering with business to benefit from access to new forms of data that may reveal the changing consumer landscape in real time. By working with the Local Data Company, this co-funded PhD builds on an existing and very fruitful relationship to draw together a range of data to create innovative indicators of the composition and vibrancy of retail areas (high streets and town centres) in Britain.

The primary aim of this co-funded PhD, therefore, is to improve our understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of high-street retailing in Great Britain. Unlike online retailing, this involves quantification and measurement of human activity to capture both demographics and also flows. These are already the subject of active research, but very little has been done to realise the potential of new forms of data in the context of retailing. This project will demonstrate the potential for monitoring the success and vibrancy of retail areas, thus providing immense value to occupiers, landlords, local authorities, investors and consumers within the retail industry.

Research Questions
1. How can new sources of data be used to assess the vibrancy of British retail areas?
2. How do such sources impact on existing methodological approaches to retail decision making?
3. What are the key barriers to implementing data driven decision making in GB retail?

1. A comprehensive retail vibrancy index that can be mapped and updated quarterly.
2. An appraisal of the role of new forms of data in the monitoring of the retail landscape.
3. A basis for forecasting changes in British retailing and recommendations for making retail areas more vibrant and sustainable.

This is likely to be a high impact project since the research will investigate the factors affecting the vibrancy of retail areas in Britain. This is highly topical and hugely important. The research will benefit from the most comprehensive datasets available to academic research and will therefore produce significant insights that will be of interest to academics as well as retail practitioners.

For more details on this and our other opportunities, please see here:

If you are interested in this opportunity, please apply by 5pm on Thursday 28th February 2019. Please send:

- Max 500 word covering email summarising your interest in pursuing this co-funded PhD studentship with the CDRC.
- Academic CV including marks awarded to date plus details of 2 referees.

Please note that only strong candidates (at least 2.1/Merit with elements of first/distinction level) will be considered.

Candidates who have already submitted applications need not re-apply.

Funding Notes

If you are interested in applying, please:

1. Ascertain your eligibility to hold an ESRC studentship here: View Website.

2. Ascertain your research training foundation. If you hold or expect to obtain a relevant MSc with methods training meeting the 2015 ESRC Postgraduate Training Guidelines (View Website), you may apply for a +3 studentship. If you do not, you will need to take one of the related MSc courses at University College London. If following this route we will discuss with you the most appropriate course to apply for.

How good is research at University College London in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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