Institute of Rural Studies

Deputy Director


Anja Herkner

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Institute of Rural Economics

Deputy Director

  • NN

Local supply in rural areas


village shop (c) Thünen-Institut/Winfried Eberhardt
village shop (© Thünen-Institut/Winfried Eberhardt)

In many villages, traditional small shops are disappearing and people without cars have to make major efforts to shop for food or to get other goods and services for everyday use. What should be done considering that the number of less mobile people will increase and younger people are  moving to bigger cities? The study looks for solutions and evaluates their feasibility.

Background and Objective

The research project aims at a systematic survey of current approaches for securing local supply in rural areas. We compare different supply concepts and evaluate what they contribute to the supply and social life as well as their economic viability and how they could be transferred to other regions. In addition, supporting instruments are assessed to what extent they are suitable for fostering the local supply. As a result, we draw conclusions for spatial development and planning.


Firstly, we have summed up the state of research and identified possibilities for supporting local supply with instruments of spatial planning and funding programmes. Secondly, we surveyed more than 100 small scale supply facilities in small villages providing a broad offering of food and often other goods and services.  Thirdly, we have conducted four illustrative case studies, semi-structured interviews with experts representing different stakeholders, and we researched good practices in six selected European countries. Finally, we have concluded with recommendations.

Data and Methods

The shopkeepers of 103 village shops were called and questioned using a standardised questionnaire. We analysed secondary statistics and conducted a GIS analysis. For this cross-sectional analysis, we used descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests. The case studies consisted respectively of two semi-structured interviews and a site visit. The intervews with experts were semi-structured too, and we interviewed therefore representatives of the retail sector, funding and planning officers. We analysed the qualitative data with a content analysis.


Since the beginning of the 1990s, alternative local supply concepts have been increasingly discussed as a solution for smaller locations in science and practice. In addition to the mobile offerings, which are not the focus of this study, chain stores and franchise concepts, multi-purpose stores involving supplementary services, integration stores enabling the participation of disadvantaged groups in work life, and community stores run with the voluntary support of the local population have been cited as options for action. The survey results show that the chain and franchise concepts are significantly more profitable than the single stores. Almost all questioned stores owners offer additional services in the sense of a multi-purpose store, in about half of the cases a café or snack bar serves as a social meeting place. However these additional services are hardly of significance for the profitability of the store. A central success factor for alternative local amenity stores is the location. Economic location factors, according the survey results, are the town size and the number of inhabitants in the zone of customer attraction. Parking spots are particularly important for the success of the store. The number of functions offered in buildings and in the neighbourhood play a lesser role. The attractiveness of the offering with regard to sales area, size of range of goods for sale, opening times and products in the price entry segment also have a relatively strong influence on the performance ability of the store. The final report with an English summary is downloadable under:;jsessionid=57FF147E5DFBC16382D9B8037F551F55.live2051.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning
    (national, öffentlich)


10.2011 - 1.2013

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

Results 1 - 5 of 8

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  1. Küpper P, Tautz A (2015) Sicherung der Nahversorgung in ländlichen Räumen Europas - Strategien ausgewählter Länder im Vergleich. Europa Regional 21(3):138-154
  2. Küpper P, Scheibe C (2015) Steuern oder fördern? Die Sicherung der Nahversorgung in den ländlichen Räumen Deutschlands und Südtirols im Vergleich. Raumforsch Raumordn Spat Res Plann 73(1):45-58, DOI:10.1007/s13147-014-0326-3
  3. Eberhardt W, Pollermann K, Küpper P (2014) Sicherung der Nahversorgung in ländlichen Räumen : Impulse für die Praxis. Berlin: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BMUB), 62 p
  4. Eberhardt W, Küpper P, Steinführer A (2014) Was soll und kann Bürgerengagement leisten? : zur Übertragung von Verantwortung für die regionale Daseinsvorsorge an die Bürger: Nahversorgung und Feuerwehr im Vergleich. Krit Agrarbericht:168-172
  5. Küpper P, Eberhardt W (2013) Nah versorgt im kleinen Ort. LandInForm(2):43

Results 1 - 5 of 8

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