Does online food shopping contribute to reduced everyday travel? A time-geographical study of Swedish households.

Authors: Malin Henriksson*, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Jessica Berg, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Transportation Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: online shopping, everyday travel, mobility, time geography, practice theory
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside C, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Transport researchers agree that transportation not only need to become more sustainable but also need to be reduced. Could online grocery shopping help reduce motorized transport? By combining time-geographical travel diaries and practice theory, this study explores how online grocery shopping influence mobility practices and the potential for energy savings. The study is based on a study of 19 households that buy groceries online. The informants represent single-person households, couples, and households with young children and teenagers and were 30–60 years old. They all live in urban areas in Sweden. The research method involved interviews and travel diaries to capture the everyday practices concerning food purchasing and travel activities. This study demonstrates that online grocery shopping can be associated with a certain privileged lifestyle that coincides with unsustainable mobility practices. Online shopping offers shoppers the possibility of controlling a specific part of everyday mobility, allowing greater freedom of urban life to those who can access the service. Rather than reducing their physical mobility (including car use), the practice of online grocery shopping excludes undesirable elements from the urban experience, such as shopping with small children or queuing in supermarkets. The results will further be used to calculate the effect e-commerce has on freight and passenger transport from an energy- and a carbon perspective. The paper will conclude with a discussion on the potentials and risks with using a time-geographical approach to calculate these effects.

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