Retailing Environments in Developing Countries

By Allan M. Findlay; Ronan Paddison et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter fourteen

From suq to supermarket in Tunis

Jean-Marie Miossec


Introduction

Taking into consideration the economic growth Tunisia has experienced over the last three decades, it would seem only logical that there should be modification in the commercial system and a progressive modernisation of its retail organisation. One might have anticipated that the old suqs (bazaars) and trading streets of the medina would be replaced by more modern forms of distribution-superettes, supermarkets, shopping centres, whilst the rest of the city centre would have more and more luxury and specialist shops. In fact this is not at all what has happened: supermarkets have indeed developed, but quite slowly, and at the moment their expansion appears to be checked. Central commercial areas in the medina (or ancient Arab core) and its suburbs have developed quickly and the forms of distribution characteristic of these areas have spread into the villebasse (or former European central city). Daily markets and weekly suqs remain very active, whilst new commercial ribbons have been created in peripheral areas. Despite the many crises facing the city, the commercial sector has remained highly dynamic, revealing an ability to adapt to the changes in supply and demand conditions which have occurred over the last twenty years. Neither 'traditional' nor 'modern', the dominant commercial structure of Tunis has adapted to the needs of an ever-changing clientele. The changes in customers have been profound both in the sense of evolving consumer behaviour, as well as in the sense of the shoppers themselves changing as the city's population grew through in-migration.


Beldi, western and new city dweller: a threefold typology of consumers

The last few decades have seen considerable transformation in the social, economic, and spatial order of Tunis. Spatial and commercial habits have had to adapt to a turbulent economic, cultural, and physical

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