Social scientists to work with retailers to improve the British high street

A team of academics is to help retailers make better use of social science research.

January 22, 2012

The ‘Retail Navigator Team’, established by the Economic and Social Research Council, will talk to shops to find out how existing and new research could help their businesses.

The researchers selected for the panel are Kim Cassidy, Sheilagh Resnick and Paul Whysall, all from Nottingham Business School.

The panel will talk to retail chief executives, trade associations and business publications. The project would be of use to “large and small” businesses including charity shops, Professor Resnick said.

One of the things retailers were interested in was the regeneration of British high streets, called for in a recent review by broadcaster and self-styled “queen of shops” Mary Portas.

They were interested in “how they might help to regenerate the high street with different offerings”, such as smaller branches rather than huge out-of-town supermarkets, Professor Resnick said.

Other areas in which social science could help shops included “creativity and innovation in the supply chain”, social media, ethical shopping, and how to sell goods on both the high street and online.

An example of previous research that could help retailers is an ethnographic study by David Evans, a sociologist at the University of Manchester, who went into people’s homes to look at the processes that led to food being thrown out.

Dr Evans said that households “would certainly end up wasting less if food were to be made available in different quantities”.

“There exists an imperative to eat fresh and so perishable food but very often our busy lives prevent us from using it before it goes off.

“And so if people were able, for example, to more readily purchase half a broccoli floret instead of a whole one – this might help,” he said.

The ESRC project will last for a year and will consider creating databases for retailers and establishing a new thinktank.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry