Special Session Summary Cross-Border Shopping


Soren Askegaard (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Cross-Border Shopping", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Andrea Groeppel-Klien and Frank-Rudolf Esch, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 245.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2001      Page 245



Soren Askegaard, SDU Odense University, Denmark

The papers of this session investigate three different ways in which shoppers may cross borders on today’s European shopping scene. One way is the consumers’ direct possibility of simply displacing themselves to another country. A second possibility is that shopping concepts such as the mall cross borders and install a more or less globalized shopping environment in a local setting. Thirdly, the shopper may (seemingly) annihilate borders by relocating the shopping activities to cyberspace and purchase via the internet. The session discusses differences and similarities between these border crossings and their role in consumers’ shopping scripts at the dawn of the 21st century.



Fabian Faurholt Csaba & Asli Tokman, Bilkent University, Turkey

As shopping malls have proliferated worldwide they have come to stand as monuments to consumerism and, in the eyes of critics, bridgeheads of an all-conquering global capitalism (Miller et al. 1998). With their formulaic designs and international retail concepts, they are often regarded expressions of homogeneity, predictability and standardisation: If you have seen one, you have seen the mall, as Rob Kroes (1998) muses. Despite the apparent commercial and cultural significance of the mall, empirical studies of this modern retail institution are relatively scarce and limited in their scope. A number of reasons for this neglect could be stated, but no doubt te very presupposition that malls are all the same has made it difficult for consumer researchers to regard them as relevant or appropriate sites for closer investigation.

Morris (1988) notes, however, that while malls are built on more or less universal planning and design principles, they nevertheless display "an intense degree of aberrance and diversity in local performance" (Morris, 1988, p.206). As such malls cannot be regarded as fixed, consistent, or permanent and thus, Morris asserts, it makes sense differentiate shopping malls and seek elucidate the diverse local contexts in which they are situated and the complex affective relations shoppers, employees and others have to them. Our study follows this assertion but takes a further step by investigating and comparing two shopping malls set in widely different cultural contexts. The modern and elegant Akmerkez shopping centre is located in middle of Turkey’s bustling commercial centre of Istanbul only a few kilometres from the historical centre Byzantine and Ottoman empires with its grandiose mosques, palaces and bazaars. Rosengsrdcenteret, on the other hand, sits on the outskirts of Odense, Denmark’s third largest city. Less glitzy, despite recent facelifts and expansions, Rosengsrdcenteret commands attention for its relative size in a city of less than 200.000 and in a country whose politicians and planning authorities for the past decade have imposed some of the most severe restrictions found anywhere in the world on mall development. Juxtaposing two shopping malls from such diverse settings enable us to compare and contrast various aspects of the socio-cultural and commercial functions of malls.

The study looks at the consumer practices as well as the orchestration and representation of the two malls. Rather than relying on the familiar research technique of short interviews with mall interceptsBan approach whose limitations are illustrated in the work of Sandikci and Holt (1998)Bthe research seeks a deeper understanding of the total mall shopping experience of subjects. Using an ethnographic approach to the study of shopping followed by Miller (1998), this inquiry follows a cross-section of shoppers on their visits to the mall starting in their homes. Combining unstructured interviews with the subjects and observations of their shopping routines and habits as well as their domestic spheres, the method aims to account better for the social and spatial practices involved in everyday and leisurely mall visits. The ethnographic orientation aims to ensure that issues of gender, class, age, and ethnicity are fully explored. The orchestration of mall involves the efforts of mall management, designers, tenants, and mall employees to stage and manage the space and image of the mall. This dimension is investigated through observation and personal interviews with mall and tenant retail managers and staff as well as security and housekeeping personnel. MallsBsometimes by virtue of their own public relations efforts, sometimes because their sheer geographical presence in local communitiesBhave a tendency to be brought into focus in public discourse and political debates of consumer, public and urban culture. This aspect of the mall’s significance should not be overlooked. We study and contrast the ways in which malls are represented in public discourse in the media and elsewhere.

Bringing together managerial, consumer and the publics’ perspectives, the study illustrates the way malls work by identifying and analysing similarities and differences in managerial and consumer practices in diverse socio-cultural, urban and economic contexts. It concludes with discussing whether commercial designs and retail management formula are as universal as often assumed and points to the regional embeddedness and local articulations observable in the orchestration and social uses of shopping malls.


Kroes, R. (1996) If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen the mall: Europeans and American mass culture. Urbana & Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Miller, D. (1998) A Theory of Shopping, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Miller, D. et al. (1998) Shopping Place and Identity, London: Routledge.

Morris, M. (1988) "Things to do with Shopping Centres", in S. Sheridan, Grafts. Feminist Cultural Criticism, London: Verso, 193-225.

Sandikci, O. & D. Holt (1998) "Malling Society: Mall Consumption Practices and the Future of Public Space". In Sherry Jr., J.F., ed., (1998) Servicescapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets, Chicago: NTC Publishing, 305-336.

The other two presentations in this special session follow this summary as complete publications.



Soren Askegaard, SDU Odense University, Denmark


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2001

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