The nucleus of this book is a set of papers presented at a conference on 'Retail Environments in Developing Countries' at the University of Glasgow in September 1987. The conference was a joint venture between the Institute of British Geographers Developing Areas Research Group and the Institute for Retail Studies. The meeting was unusual, memorable and stimulating because it brought together geographers, planners and marketing scientists to exchange their ideas and conceptions of retail structures and consumer behaviour in developing countries. The search for common ground linking work in these disciplines was not easy, but did seem to be a goal worth striving for on a topic of this kind. Those papers from the conference, which are published in a revised form in this book, provide a starting point towards this objective.
The chapters are mainly based on the authors' own recent field research in less-developed countries. Through editing this volume, the editors themselves have become more aware of what a vast and important topic is being dealt with by the contributors. Not only is there relatively little written elsewhere on retailing in less developed countries, but as this volume itself bears witness, coverage is uneven, both geographically and in terms of the research issues tackled. Much remains to be done, but as we have tried to show in the opening and concluding chapters of this book, the rewards which might be reaped from the adoption of a concentrated research strategy would be very great indeed, both in terms of theory and in terms of research application.
The volume would have been impossible without the generous collaboration of all the contributors, responding to our letters across the globe. The manuscript would also have been quite different, and certainly the poorer, had it not been for helpful comments at various times during its preparation from a wide scatter of colleagues. Our special thanks must go to Michael Bonine, Cliff Guy, Cynthia Hewitt,