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Shopping centers have become part of the retail space in many post-communist countries due to globalization trends in the early 90s of the last century (Krizan et al. 2016, Michalak 2001, Riley 1997, Spilkova 2008, Szczyrba 2005a). The transformation of the retail space in Slovakia had several phases (Mitrikova 2008, Trembosova 2012). As E. Nagy (2001, p. 346) states, taking Hungary as an example," in capitals and the largest provincial cities, large-scale developments have transformed consumer habits and the spatial shopping trips of the urban population, who have adapted very rapidly to the new retail structure. In this way, the gravity center of shopping has changed: customers increasingly target the city center for its specialized shops, but its role is declining in daily and weekly shopping. The flow of shoppers is also shifting from the traditional main shopping streets to new shopping centers and the stores clustered around it". As one of the few Slovak cities, Bratislava shows signs of growing decentralization and not only in suburbanization activities. On the one hand, Bratislava is a prime example of retail concentration (cf. Szczyrba 2005b), and retail activity decentralization on the other (Sveda, Krizan 2012).

Changes in urban retail go along with changes in consumer behavior (Spilkova 2012) and consumer mobility for services (Halas, Zuskacova 2013). In this respect, shopping centers became the favored retail format (Maryas et al. 2014, Szczyrba 2010).

The aim of the paper is to evaluate consumer preferences in shopping centers in Bratislava from a spatial perspective. The authors identify the most preferred shopping centers in Bratislava based on consumer preferences and attractiveness index. The authors also attempt to identify consumer preference distribution while choosing shopping centers.


The methods used in the study can be divided into three groups. The first group consists of methods analyzing consumer perceptions and preferences. Therefore, primary data was collected via survey and interviews (Guimaraes 2014, Kunc et al. 2012). The study is based on a survey of 11,389 respondents, consumers shopping in retail units across Bratislava (cf. Bilkova et al. 2016, Krizan et al. 2015, Kita, Grossmanova 2014). Quota sampling was employed (Bryman 2012) to consider place of residence, age, and other characteristics (table 1). The survey was conducted between February and May 2011. Respondents were asked directly in shopping centers and their vicinities in Bratislava.

The second group consists of methods evaluating shopping center attractiveness. The corresponding literature states numerous options to measure attractiveness in the form of various indexes (cf. Kunc et al. 2016, Mitrikova and Antolikova 2016). The study employs an attractiveness index (Des Rosiers et al. 2005) quantifying shopping center attractiveness as a ratio comparing individual shopping centers to the sum of shopping centers in Bratislava (cf. Krizan et al. 2016).

Visualization and interpretation methods compose the third group of methods. Geographic information systems (Gis) were employed not only as a cartographic (visualization) tool but also an analytical (interpretation) study tool. The analysis in the GIS comprised of several steps:

I. Raster digitalization and layer creation. shopping center localization data was geocoded with Gis editing tools.

II. Analysis of shopping center accessibility. shopping center accessibility was analyzed using binary accessibility ratios in the road network within the Gis with the Network analyst tool (cf. Durcek and Hornak 2016). Starting points in the square grid are represented by 1 x 1 km centroids. Ending points are represented by shopping center locations in Bratislava in 2011 or 2016.

III. interpretation of cartographic analysis results. Analytical parts of the study were visualized within the GIS using several cartographic techniques.

The applied data can be divided into two groups. The first group consists of the collected data. Primary data connected to each shopping center, retail unit structure, and service facilities. The second group is composed of secondary data provided by the Slovak statistical office. The data is a raster of the Slovak republic. The city of Bratislava is covered by a grid of 436 1x1 km squares, 230 of which (52,8%) are unpopulated and 25 have a population of less than 10 residents. This points to the heterogeneous distribution of residents and confirms the suitability of applying a grid system for analysis. The average density of population within the grid is 946 residents/km2. 199 out 206 squares were analyzed. Geocoding was a limiting factor due to overlap of the grid and the existing road network. In total, 7 squares (or rather centroids) had a marginal location and which had no influence on the analysis results. The primary data containing consumer preferences were later paired with the grid and analyzed per 1x1 km squares.


Bratislava as the capital disposes of a wide range of retail units (Kita and Grossmanova 2014, Kita et al. 2014, Krizan et al. 2014). The authors' attention was centered around the 7 most preferred shopping centers (figure 1) which attained the highest attractiveness index (table 2) at time of study. This is due to the complex nature of Bratislava's retail system. The shopping centers in question are of different character in terms of genesis (greenfield vs. brownfield) and location (city center vs. suburbs) (cf. Krizan et al. 2017).

While evaluating consumer preferences, results shown very low consumer loyalty but significant heterogeneity in preferences for individual shopping centers as the most frequent shopping places. 56,9% of consumers in Bratislava prefer the three most visited shopping centers (Aupark, Galeria Eurovea a Avion Shopping Park). The most preferred is Aupark (Krizan et al. 2015), a shopping center located on the city center's edge within the largest residential area on the south of the city (over 100,000 residents). A significant change in this city district happened after the transition to a market economy. Despite the presence of another shopping center (OC Danubia), Aupark's attractiveness exceeds the borders of the city district of Petrzalka. Aupark is also preferred by consumers from marginal city districts. It is the most preferred shopping center mostly in the district of Petrzalka, this is confirmed by attractiveness index values (figure 2). There is only one shopping center (Galeria Eurovea) located in the historical city district (Krizan et al. 2017). Due to its location, it is preferred by residents of every city district commuting daily to service providers in the city center. These preferences are relatively even in distribution, although slightly diminishing with increasing distance from the center. Despite its marginal location, Avion shopping park retains a significant part of consumer preferences and is one of the most preferred shopping centers in the city. Its attractiveness index attains high values in its vicinity, based on the gross rented surface area, number of residents, and distance. This is due to shopping center's location, away from main public transport lines (Sikos 2011). It is the largest shopping center in Slovakia (GLA = 103,000 m2). An important part contributing to its attractiveness is the presence of an IKEA outlet (Kunc et al. 2016).

Polus City Center, opened in 2000, is the oldest shopping center in Slovakia. its attractiveness index peaks in its background, preferred mostly by consumers mostly from neighboring districts. The reason is the development of new shopping centers in other districts and the inability to discern trends in consumer identity changes. its attractiveness was diminished by the closure of one of its magnets--a Carrefour hypermarket outlet. A more noticeable downfall in attractiveness is visible in the case of Shopping Palace, located in the industrial area on the city's edge (fig 2). The shopping center is preferred by employees living in other districts and consumers commuting to Bratislava. Due to the establishment of other competing centers, developers had to hold back on their plans to enlarge the shopping center. Three other competing centers are closely located to Shopping Palace which limits the attractiveness of this marginal shopping center. Regarding the attractiveness index as well as consumer preferences, OC Galeria and OC Danubia can be considered as shopping centers of local importance which do not significantly exceed the border of their districts. Their location on the city's outskirts and presence of more attractive shopping centers explain the lower consumer preferences (Bilkova et al. 2016).

The analysis of the spatial distribution of preferences in shopping centers divides the studied shopping centers into three groups (fig 3). Group A, composed of shopping centers with a significant preference diminishing over distance, although after reaching a certain point a collective increase is noticeable. These are shopping centers located away from the city center and consumers have to commute from far away, e.g. Aupark, Avion Shopping Park. Group B is also composed of shopping centers with a significant preference, though, the fall off over distance is slower than in Group A. The locations are concentric to the daily economic activities of their consumers within the city center. This renders the preferences relatively stable throughout space, e.g. Galeria Eurovea. Group C's preference increases over distance. The trendline can have different character (linear or exponential) depending on the shopping center's features, e.g. Polus City Center and Shopping Palace.


Consumers preferences and shopping center attractiveness can be discussed on various levels (cf. Kunc et al. 2016). From this perspective, Bratislava's shopping centers can be divided into three groups. The first group composes of shopping center with extra-regional importance, although it does not seem to explicitly be the case. This empirical study and the study of J. Kunc et al. (2016) puts Aupark, Galeria Eurovea, and Avion shopping park into the first group. The second group represents shopping centers of citywide importance (Polus City center and Shopping Palace). The third group encompasses shopping centers of local importance (OC Galeria and OC Danubia) whose elevated preferences (and attractiveness index) manifest themselves in their proper city districts. Three types of customer preference spatial distribution were identified in the article. They differ depending on the shopping center's location, on the one hand, and shopping center attractiveness, on the other hand. In this respect, it is necessary to state that the results correspond to one city. Hence, they cannot be generalized. The authors acknowledge this fact and consider it a limiting factor of the study. The results can be used in planning, in the sense of sales marketing or geomarketing in general. A customer preference spatial distribution analysis is an important benefit for planners and marketers in the competitive retail environment. Retailers can modify their commercial strategies to better match customer behavior and lead to commercial success. Regarding planned development activities, shopping center enhancement, and other construction plans, local government regulation is becoming an issue (cf. Guimaraes 2016, Maksic 2014, Smolova and Szczyrba 2000, Spilkova 2010), due the construction of new shopping centers influencing consumer behavior, consumption equations in the urban space (Guimaraes 2014), as well as consumers residing in the countryside (Heffner and Twardzik 2015, Sikos and Kovacs 2008). This leads to the architectural character and urbanism of the city and should be treated as assets. Thus, as beneficial to the planning process (Gibbs 2012). Combined with proven retailing principles, they can create a sustainable urban shopping district, one capable of providing the goods and services needed and preferred by consumers.


This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract No. APVV-16-0232. VEGA 1/0066/18 A model of marketing communication on health-oriented shopping behaviour of consumers. VEGA 1/0282/15 Instruments of Marketing Policy in New Business Models Orientated at Creating Multiple Value for Customer under the Conditions of Sustainable Development


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Frantisek Krizan

Department of Regional Geography, Protection and Planning of the Landscape, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Mlynska dolina, Ilkovicova 6, 842 15 Bratislava

Kristina Bilkova

Institute of Geography, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Stefanikova 49, 814 73 Bratislava, Slovakia

Peter Barlik

Market Locator SK s.r.o., 29. Augusta 36/A, 811 09 Bratislava

Pavol Kita

Department of Marketing, The Faculty of Commerce, University of Economics in Bratislava, Dolnozemska cesta 1, 852 35 Bratislava

Peter Kita

Department of Management, Faculty of Business and Management, Brno University of Technology, Kolejni 2906/4, 612 00 Brno

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]

                           Respondent education [%]
         Ratio   Average   Without     Primary     education without
Gender   [%]     age       education   education   certificate

Male      42.3   37.5      0.25        1.25        11.37
Female    57.7   36.3      0.15        1.22        10.17
Sum      100.0   36.8      0.19        1.23        10.68

         Respondent education [%]
         with          University
Gender   certificate

Male     44.30         42.82
Female   49.55         38.91
Sum      47.33         40.57

Source: Own study. N= 11,389


Shopping center                             R (%)   CAI (%)

1. Aupark                                   24.3    17.75
2. Galeria Eurovea                          17.0    18.84
3. Avion Shopping Park                      15.6     9.72
4. Polus Shopping Center                    10.8    15.55
5. Shopping Palace Zlate Piesky              3.2     2.09
6. OC Galeria                                3.2     1.57
7. OC Danubia                                2.5     5.68
Other shopping centers and shopping malls   22.3    28.8
Uncathegorized answers                       1.1     -

R--Ratio of preferring respondents, CAI--Center attraction index.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Bratislava, Slovakia
Author:Krizan, Frantisek; Bilkova, Kristina; Barlik, Peter; Kita, Pavol; Kita, Peter
Publication:Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:4EXSV
Date:Feb 1, 2018

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