The research, carried out by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), analysed how different local assortments of stores influence consumer satisfaction. It also investigated the range, type and brands of stores that are most preferred.
While Tesco was placed top as the retailer with the "largest positive effect on consumer satisfaction", the highest levels of satisfaction were found in areas where the retailer was operating only as part of a varied mix of stores locally.
Interviewees in the towns surveyed - Milton Keynes, Worcester and Telford - stated that the presence of a small store within a local retail assortment is "significantly valued". However, the study also found that, for many, it often makes little difference whether the local store is operated as a Tesco Express, independent or other multiple chain.
LUMS professor Ian Clarke said: "The research reveals the importance of assessing choice at a local level and brings a much-needed consumer voice to the planning table."