Sustainability in retailing – a summative content analysis

Anne Wiese (Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Julian Kellner (Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Britta Lietke (Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Waldemar Toporowski (Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Stephan Zielke (Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 23 March 2012



This paper aims to analyse past and current sustainability considerations and developments in scientific research and practice with a focus on the role of retailers in supply chains.


A summative content analysis is used to identify major research areas and industrial branches in the sustainability literature relevant to retail supply chains, and sustainability considerations in retail practice.


Sustainability‐related issues have been discussed for many years and the term sustainability has received increased attention in research since the mid‐1990s. In retail research, there seems to be a time lag of more than ten years in using the term sustainability compared to other fields in research and industry. However, some of these other research fields and industries have an impact on retail supply chains. At the same time, it seems that sustainability has received more attention in retail management practice compared to research applications.

Research limitations/implications

Future retail research should try to integrate the findings from related research areas and industry sectors, and emerging issues in practice magazines.


This paper provides a comprehensive overview of past and current sustainability research in retailing and sustainability relevance in retail practice. The paper considers the specific role of retailers in supply chains through a broad analysis of sustainability considerations in different research areas and industries relevant to retail supply chains.



Wiese, A., Kellner, J., Lietke, B., Toporowski, W. and Zielke, S. (2012), "Sustainability in retailing – a summative content analysis", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 318-335.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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