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Small town centre attractiveness: evidence from Sweden

Olof Wahlberg (Department of Business, Economics and Law, Mid-Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 11 April 2016



The purpose of this paper is to explore the qualities of a small town centre and how such centres can enhance their attractiveness.


A convenience sampling procedure was used to administer a web survey to visitors of a small Swedish town. Importance-performance analysis and statistical methods were used to analyse quality attributes and quality dimensions. Correlation analysis was run to measure the relationship between centre attractiveness and shopping loyalty.


The variety of retail outlets is what is most valued by visitors to a small town centre, followed by the provision of events and non-commercial activities and the design and maintenance of the physical environment in the centre. Surprisingly, the interpersonal behaviour has less impact on the perceived attractiveness than the aforementioned quality dimensions. Visitors’ shopping loyalty is significantly related to the perceived attractiveness.

Research limitations/implications

The study is a one-off study based upon a small Swedish town, but it is indicative of global shopping trends.

Practical implications

Implications for town centre management to enhance the attractiveness of the business district of a small town.

Social implications

Traditional town centres have been props for the surrounding societies, providing anscillary services beside retailing. When retail moves to out-of-town retail locations, this could lead to the erosion of interpersonal communications and central services for citizens.


Pioneering research on small Swedish town shopping.



Wahlberg, O. (2016), "Small town centre attractiveness: evidence from Sweden", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 44 No. 4, pp. 465-488.



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