This paper is concerned with the morphological adaptations of buildings that accompany retail modernisation within a series of villages and small towns in central Malaga province, Southern Spain. Indicators of morphological change are designed and an attempt is made to measure such change in the field. The relationships of morphological change to a range of socio-economic data are explored. The statistical associations discovered are qualified in terms of possible underlying social and economic factors. The pattern of morphological change appears to be related to a process of hierarchical diffusion although a rudimentary type of retail estaablishment persists in centres of different types and sizes. It is argued that this survival owes more to social and cultural factors than to economic considerations.