Food expensiveness in remote areas of Scotland: A natural experiment measuring the out-shopping effect

Carlo Russo*, C Revoredo-Giha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper investigates the effect of out-shopping (i.e., buying food outside local area) on food
expensiveness in remote areas in Scotland, contributing to the literature on social factors
affecting food security and food affordability in remote rural areas worldwide. It identifies out shopping as a factor explaining why existing studies observing food prices at local stores in
remote areas find much higher prices than at urban stores, while studies observing actual
purchases of household in remote areas find small differences in food expensiveness with urban households. To investigate this difference, a food expensiveness index was constructed using home scanner data measuring households’ actual purchases. Data from the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, when travel restriction limited out-shopping, were compared with the same period in 2019 when such restrictions were not in place. The results find that the premium paid in remote rural areas was small overall, but a statistically significant increase during lockdown was found for those households that lost access to discount stores because of movement restrictions. This result indicates that out-shopping is an important factor limiting food expensiveness in remote areas of Scotland and thus ensuring food affordability. Data suggest that approximately 42 per cent of households in Scotland remote areas rely on out-shopping for obtaining affordable food.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Security
Early online date8 Jun 2024
Publication statusFirst published - 8 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Food affordability
  • Food availability
  • Home-scanner data
  • Remote rural areas
  • Rural development


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