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Abstract

Agriculture and forestry have been the mainstay of Virginia economy, contributing about $80 billion annually to the economy. The changing demography of consumers and advances in technology have facilitated a paradigm shift in food and retail sales. This study focuses on understanding and explaining these consumer trends and the underlying causes of the transformation in the food and retail sectors across 134 counties and cities in Virginia. In the wake of current concerns about access to nutritious food, this study also examines the effects of food and retail stores concentration on incidences of food desert in the State. A two-step approach was used in the data analysis. First, retail concentration in Virginia was analyzed by determine retail pull factors, market share, trade area capture, buying power and commuting patterns of customers and growth in the food and retail sector over the last two decades. Second, a spatial regression model was used to examine the strength of food and retail sectors. The retail trends and their impacts on identified food deserts and economic activity will be useful to analysts and decision makers in public policy in developing effective programs for enhancing the socioeconomic activities for their constituents

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