Flexible retailing: Gap Inc. and the multiple spaces of shopping in the United States

Sallie A. Marston, Ali Modarres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In the last 15 years a range of new and revitalised forms of retailing have emerged in cities and suburbs across the USA. Power centres, hybrid centres, speciality retail centres, and street-based retailing have complicated the existing mix of shopping centres, malls, factory outlet/off-price centres, and festive/restoration centres. After examining the literature on retail change and establishing our theoritical framework, we analyse the history of mall construction and contrast it with a representative retail firm, Gap Inc., in order to gain some insights into the diversity of contemporary American retailing. Through this empirical examination we argue that retailing in the USA is currently operating through a range of spatial forms. This diversity in retail forms has been assisted and promoted by the emergence and increasing predominance of large corporate retailers - from clothiers to home furnishing vendors to booksellers - who are able to operate profitably in a range of spatial settings. As mall construction nationally has declined new shopping centre formats and the recent revival of street-based retailing appear as innovative spatial forms that extend the opportunities and broaden the experiental aspects of shopping for a wide range of consumers. We conclude that contemporary retailing, like manufacturing, has become increasingly flexible in its locational practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Gap Inc.
  • Retail geography
  • Shopping
  • Spatial analysis/GIS
  • The mall
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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