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Note—Consumer Store Choice and Choice Set Definition

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Abstract

Consumer store choice results from a process whereby information on various alternatives is evaluated by the consumer prior to the selection of one of these alternatives. In the application of store choice models it is often assumed that the information-processing strategy underlying store choice is a simultaneous one in which possible alternatives are evaluated by an individual. A competing assumption, increasingly recognized in aspatial choice, is that individuals initially evaluate clusters of alternatives and then only evaluate alternatives within a chosen cluster. The nested logit model is a well-known formulation for capturing this type of choice process. This paper adds to the above understanding of consumer spatial choice in the following ways: (i) It describes an alternative to the nested logit model, known as a competing destinations model, which can be used to model hierarchical spatial choice processes. While this model has been described previously in the geography and planning literature, this paper contains a novel derivation of it from within the random utility maximization framework. (ii) A general choice formulation is derived from which the logit, nested logit, and competing destinations models can be obtained. This allows the behavioral assumptions embedded in each model to be seen clearly and it allows a comparison of the nested logit and competing destinations formulations. The latter is shown to be preferable in most choice situations. In particular, the latter can be used when restricted choice sets are fuzzy. (iii) The errors that arise when spatial choice results from a hierarchical process and when a simultaneous choice structure is assumed are demonstrated and are related to the presence of consumer competition/agglomeration effects between stores which are thought to be important in store choice.

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