Issues in the C.B.D.
Welcome to the C.B.D.
The C.B.D. or Central Business District is a concept beyond the High Street and retailing. The C.B.D. is an area within a large town or city where certain types of businesses group together.
Often the C.B.D. is the location for financial services such as banks, but not the bank branches that we think of, rather a place for making big investment decisions. Other major businesses such as insurance companies can be found here. The C.B.D. usually grew around the most accessible place where transport routes came together (transport node) and this was the place where retailing grew out of small trading businesses providing goods for travelers and people working in the growing businesses in the area.
Over time in some centres such as Cardiff the businesses continued to grow. Because they were surrounded by the town they could not grow outward so they grew upward. More importantly, rents on land or local taxes were often paid by land area so it made good business sense to build upwards. This is why some parts of towns and cities have such high buildings. You should be able to identify the C.B.D. of a large town or city by looking at the heights of buildings. Usually, the closer you get to the C.B.D. the more floors the buildings have. Try using a G.I.S. to see if this is true.
Challenges facing the Central Business District – The growth of ‘out of town’ locations
One of the biggest challenges to a C.B.D. is the growth of out of town locations. This applies equally to retailing and other businesses. With the growth of car ownership many shoppers want a simple drive and lots of parking outside shops. This has led to the growth of out of town retail parks such as Parc Trostre at the edge of Llanelli. With many large flagship stores moving to retail parks how can the town centre continue to draw in shoppers?
In the past footfall from non-retail businesses in the C.B.D. (workers and customers) would have kept flagship stores in the C.B.D. However out of town also affects traditional C.B.D. non-retail businesses. This photograph shows the Celtic Lakes Business Park on the edge of Newport and this is pulling away many businesses that would traditionally be in the C.B.D.
Without this footfall major retailers have deserted the city centre. Without the attractions of major retailers in the C.B.D. other businesses also move out of town; it becomes a vicious cycle or what is sometimes called the domino effect – one goes which pushes the next which then pushes the next and so on.
Challenges facing the Central Business District – Maintaining the shopping experience
Recently geographers have started using a new phrase – ‘clone towns’. A clone town has lost its individual character or identity and is very similar to lots of other towns, with the same chain stores occupying the same sort of spaces in the C.B.D. Over the past decade or two local independent retailers have been aggressively driven out by national and international chains until there is little to choose between.
The problem is that, with competition from out of town shopping centres and declining businesses in our city centres, these clone towns may not have what it takes to attract enough shoppers who often travel a large distance. The distance over which a shopping centre can attract shoppers in is called its sphere of influence. The size of its sphere of influence will determine the threshold population and this in turn will affect the range of goods and services.
Concept: The Sphere of Influence
The sphere of influence is the area that a settlement provides goods and services for. Sphere of influence is based in part on the concept of ‘Settlement Hierarchy’ which shows that there are lots of smaller settlements such as Isolated buildings or a small group of houses called a hamlet.
As settlements get bigger such as villages or small towns there are less of them. However as a village has a sphere of influence covering several hamlets it may reach the threshold population required to support a small shop, post office or pub.
As settlements get larger they reduce in numbers again as they require a very large threshold population to support their large range of different goods and services. At the very top of the settlement hierarchy there may be just one large city.
Sometimes towns and cities grow or merge together to create areas called conurbations. A conurbation is starting to develop along the M4 motorway in South Wales as Cardiff begins to merge with other towns and cities such as Newport.
The location of a settlement on the settlement hierarchy and its sphere of influence will largely control the range of goods and services a settlement can sustain. Small settlements may only sell low order (cheaper) goods that people need all the time like milk or bread. Large cities will have a full range of expensive high order goods and services that people only buy very rarely. Until recently this would have included items such as large electronic goods like TVs or computers, but these types of retailers have mostly moved out of town or online.
Some out of town retail parks are very cleverly located to try and attack the sphere of influence of several town centres. A good example is Talbot Green in Llantrisant that is on the edge of the sphere of influence of much of Cardiff, Bridgend and Pontypridd.
Challenges facing the Central Business District – The rise of ‘New Retailing’
The photograph below shows the inside of internet retailing giant Amazon’s warehouse near Swansea. Online shopping is a real competition for many C.B.D. retailers. However, it affects some more than others.
Any product that can be converted to digital media such as music or video can be downloaded and many shoppers do not want to fill their homes with physical products such as a DVDs or CDs. Retailers in this area have to adapt quickly or die. However online retail still only accounts for around 10% of UK purchases. The bigger challenge comes from the rise of super retailers.
Amazon’s warehouse, Swansea
Until recently a supermarket was somewhere that a shopper went to buy food. Now some chains want to make themselves a one-stop shop with electronics, home ware, clothes and even services such as opticians and pharmacies. In our modern age, time is money; many shoppers opt for the speed and convenience of having everything they need under one roof.
Often these super retailers can achieve large economies of scale which means that they can buy in bulk or split their staff between different sections of the store. As a result they can undercut town centre prices. Many supermarkets have even added online shopping to their services, making it easy for their customers to quickly collect their shopping at a convenient time, or even have it delivered, often on the same day that they placed the order.
Many people would say that they provide best of all worlds which is why they have often built up such large shares of the market.
Use a G.I.S. (Geographical Information System, e.g. Google Earth or Google Maps) to investigate the range of goods and services in settlements of different sizes. Complete a tally chart to see how many of the following are in each settlement town centre.
Low order goods
High order goods
Low order services
High order services
Draw graphs for each settlement and decide whether the ideas of sphere of influence/threshold populations and settlement hierarchies are still true.
Issues in the C.B.D. Welcome to the C.B.D. The C.B.D. or Central Business District is a concept beyond the High Street and retailing. The C.B.D. is an area within a large town or city