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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Tim Rains

Tim Rains


Please do not hesitate to contact Tim via email at the following address.


The Chorley Institute
Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Gower Street


Tim is an MPhil/PhD student at the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) based at UCL Department of Geography, where he investigating the issues and potential of novel spatio-temporal data sources such as transaction and loyalty card data to explore consumption patterns. His main academic interests are in geographical information systems, geodemographics and the geographies of retail and consumption.

He has a professional background in Transport Planning data collection and analysis in the UK and Australia, as well as more recently in spatial analysis and software development in the Retail sector. He holds an undergraduate degree from Plymouth University in Geography and an MSc in GISc from Birkbeck University.

Academic Background

Birkbeck College, University of London

Master of Science (MSc), GISc, Distinction

2008 – 2010

University of Plymouth

Bachelor of Arts (BA), Geography, 2:2

2000 – 2003


Professional Background

Senior GIS Analyst, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, London & Coventry, UK. Sept 2012 to present.

Survey Manager and GIS Analyst, SKM Colin Buchanan, London, UK. Sept 2006 – Sept 2012.

GIS Digitiser & Surveyor, Colin Buchanan, Newbury, UK. July 2003 – April 2004, April 2005 – Sept 2006.

Field GIS Manager, Infrastructure Management Group, Sydney, Aus. July 2004 to Mar 2005.


The temporal patterns and geodemographics of consumption activity.

Principal Supervisor: Paul Longley
Secondary Supervisor: James Cheshire

Consumer Data Research Centre.

Understanding consumer behaviour and consumption patterns plays a key role in the strategic and operational planning of retail organisations. This is multi-faceted, complex and changing, and driven by personal circumstance and neighbourhood influence, marketing practices, as well as the underlying structure of local markets and technological change. In order to make decisions and solve problems in retail organisations, behavioural indicators are required to be fed into analyses and modelling that help decision makers understand what happens and may happen in the future. Big Data sources offer the potential to do achieve this.

Tim’s PhD research will use novel ‘big’ data sources in the form of loyalty card and transaction data to examine aspects of consumption activity patterns. It will first explore issues of using novel data sources such as data protection, as well as uncertainty and bias inherent within these data.

Exploring local areas and supply dynamics, it will investigate how consumption patterns change through time given the influence of market disruptions such as multi-channel retail. In doing this, it will aim to create a fuzzy and temporal geodemographic data resource that can re-used for different analyses and decision making by the industry partner, and is also update-able in the future to incorporate future changes in the retail landscape.


Lansley, G., Wei, Y., & Rains, T. Identifying the Major Traits of Ethnic Clustering in England and Wales from the 2011 Census. The Consumer Data Research Centre Working Paper Series, Paper 01, September 2015