"Supermarkets Have No Detrimental Affect Small Shops"
Watchdog report finds little evidence to back independents traders' claims
A report published by the Competition Commission this week has found that supermarkets do not damage small stores as much as was previously thought, and perhaps not at all.
Independent traders and small shop keepers complained to the commission claiming that the supermarkets were abusing their market power, squeezing suppliers too hard and selling goods at a loss to drive the small businesses from high street. Forceful campaigning by the independents prompted the commission to look at the claims however, their findings were far from what was anticipated.
Although lobbyists for small shops argue that their number is falling sharply, the commission found a 70% increase in the number of convenience stores between 2000 and 2006, and more than half of the new ones were independents.
The commission also found that when a new supermarket enters an area, although the number of small grocers fell, the number of bakers increased. There was no apparent change in the number of butchers, fishmongers, delis and health-food stores.
According to The Economist, the competition regulator sees the rise of big supermarkets as being good for consumers, on the whole. Food prices have fallen, and choice has broadened.
“It's a free country and shoppers can shop where they like,” said Peter Freeman, the chairman of the commission. “The consumer is getting a reasonable deal from the retail industry.”
The findings will provide no comfort to many of Chiswick's cherished small traders. Phil Collins whose family has been in the Chiswick grocery trade for over 35 years runs his business from a market stall on the High Road. He believes its not Sainsbury's pricing that affects business but their car park. He told ChiswickW4 "I remember when we had cars lining up from 7.00am on a Saturday morning. We'd fill a box full of fruit and veg for £15, put it in the back of the car and away they'd go. It's not like that now, the traffic wardens are out here at the crack of dawn just waiting for people to stop so they can ticket them."
He continued "It's all about convenience. Sainsbury's has a car park and also people can use their cards - they don't need cash. We can't take cards here so we lose out."
November 2, 2007