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Shopping preferences and patterns in rural communities
In recent years a wide range of smaller regional towns throughout Australia have experienced declining populations as people migrate to more centralised and coastal regions. Throughout these areas regional development organisations and local governments have sought to stem this flow. One issue of particular concern to the regional development organisations in these smaller country towns and rural/remote areas is the leakage of funds spent outside the local area and the resulting lack of support for local smaller businesses. There is also concern about whether lack of retail and other facilities affects perceptions about the desirability of living in these communities. The research reported in this paper assessed the perceptions of the standards of local facilities and the consumer decision-making styles of residents in a rural community, as well as various demographic variables to determine whether they explained shopping behaviour in the area. The survey of 79 households was conducted in Emerald, a small regional hub in central Queensland, Australia. Results show that consumer decision-making styles and age of residents are related to the frequency of shopping within the township and in other centres. Perceptions of liveability of the area are also related to shopping preferences, although the majority of respondents rated retail and shopping services in the area as of reasonable standard, neither very high nor very low.