The network geography in Belgium through commuting detection, a special focus on retail landscapes

Authors: Joris Beckers*, Universiteit Antwerpen, Ann Verhetsel, Universiteit Antwerpen
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Geography
Keywords: retail geography, community detection, Belgium
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the tradition of Christaller’s central place theory, a share of studies conducted over the past decades determine catchment areas around predefined central places. These studies start with building a hierarchy of retail centers based on supply indicators, and consequently delineate catchment areas around the identified urban centers based on robust consumer flows. Nowadays consumer patterns are far more complex and fragmented than they used to be in the 20th century: instead of constant flows to the nearby center, consumers shop around in nearby and further located (sub)centers. We use network analysis in order to delineate catchment areas without predefining central places. In a first step, a community detection algorithm is applied on data gathered by a comprehensive questionnaire about actual consumer flows for periodical goods in Belgium (Flanders). Via this technique we are able to present a new geography of retail in Belgium. In a second step, we check the correlation between these results and previous network analyses in the same study area, to test the variance of this pattern over different types of flows (Beckers et al., 2017, Verhetsel et al., forthcoming) The results prove the usefulness of community detection techniques for delineating catchment areas. Although the traditional central places emerge from the data, showing the inertia of retail activities, interesting new phenomena in the retail landscape appear.

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