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Cambria

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Vol. 5, no.1 1978

The ownership and employment patters of small shops : a case study in east Swansea /

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have attempted any detailed analysis of this feature. Perhaps one
notable exception is the work of Kilingender (1951) on the business
characteristics of small shop-keepers in post-war Hull. In addition,
the sociological nature of this study served to underline the difficult
working hours that the shop owner had to endure; while much
earlier work by Parker (1932) on Merseyside had already drawn
some attention to the 'poverty-line' conditions under which many
small businessmen operated.
The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the ownership
and employment characteristics of small shops operating within an
established and relatively stable urban community. It is hoped that a
detailed study of the past business experience of small shopkeepers
will aid in the assessment of their future business potential, given
that other factors affecting their performances are also taken into
consideration. Significantly, this research was prompted initially by
the interest shown by local planning authorities in the contribution
that small businesses make to local employment within the Swansea
area.
Survey analysis and the study area
As an initial part of a longer term study on employment to be under-
taken by the local planning authorities, questionnaires were circul-
ated to all the shops in a part of east Swansea (see fig. 1). Of the
shops contacted 63 responded with information concerning types of
employment, previous business experience and number of hours
worked. It was hoped to define small shops on the basis of turnover
per annum but the overall response to this question was extremely
low. As a valid alternative employment levels were used and a small
shop was defined as an establishment which employs up to three
full-time or six part-time employees (Beechofer, Elliott and Rush-
worth, 1971).
The area of study lies one mile North of Swansea's central
shopping area and consists of a few scattered industrial hamlets that
gradually coalesced as the city expanded during the nineteenth
century (fig. 1). The retail pattern of this area is essentially a
mixture of nucleated and 'ribbon-type' growth, the former being the
remains of the old village centres. Perhaps the clearest example of
such relic features is to be found at Brynhyfryd, where the shops
form a tight cluster around what was once the village square. In
contrast there is a considerable amount of ribbon development of
shops, dating from the late nineteenth century, along Llangyfelach
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