Consumer Mobility, Online and On-site Commerce and the Geographic Concentration of Economic Activity: Evidence from 20 Billion Transactions

The geographical pattern of consumers’ expenditures, whether made on-site or online, has implications for the location of economic activity and regional economic development. Data limitations have however limited our knowledge of this aspect of consumer behaviour. This paper uses transaction data to investigate such geographical patterns, and the impact of online commerce on these and on inter-regional retail trade linkages between cities and regions. We build original mobility and inter-regional retail trade measures from nearly 20 billion domestic consumer transactions made through bank cards, in France 2018-19. We find evidence that online consumer expenditure are more heavily concentrated in the already-large regional economies, relative to on-site expenditure, which suggests that the increasing movement toward online purchasing tend to increase the concentration of overall economic activity, and may have important implications for regional economic development.

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