The top dog at Sainsbury claims that high street shops have brought about their own demise and that it is nothing to do with the supermarkets he and his mates in the business have infested our towns and cities with. Is he just been funny or bullish, or does he really believe what he’s saying?
It might of been just possible to see the supermarkets as mounting fair competition to other food stuff providers when they were of a town centre scale and location. However, as soon as they decided to seek green field sites, away from centres of population, followed by selling an ever increasing range of non-food goods, it was no longer the case. The purchasing muscle deployed by supermarkets, combined with a ruthless and cut throat approach to pricing from their suppliers, means that the small independent retailer, of the standard fare, has no hope of competing.
If Mr King really believes that town centre shops are not falling victim to his brand of business, then he, along with all the other supermarket bosses, should be doing something to support and
encourage them, instead of trampling them under foot. Nor should he suggest that they can afford to run loyalty schemes, ala Nectar points, that will cut even further in to already threadbare profit margins.
Why don’t the supermarkets set up an investment fund that buys up blocks of town centre shops in areas that are struggling. They could then offer these premises to startup businesses that were either non-existent, or poorly represented in that high street, at a peppercorn rent. Only when the numbers started to add up, would the rent begin to increase and then at a very modest rate. Taxpayers would also do their bit by giving business rates relief for the same period. Even if the shop never became particularly profitable, as long it was providing a valuable service and adding colour and variety to its town centre, it would be supported. A pipe dream I know and something the voracious share holders of the big 4 would probably never wear, but one
Iives in hope.
Is it not about choice?
We keep reading that the public don’t want out of town superstores and want to retain their high streets yet given the choice they choose the big supermarkets.
I hate supermarkets. I loath everything about them so each week I go out to Spalding Farm Shop for fruit and veg, I then go to the butchers at Pinchbeck and each week head into town to shops like Heron (a chain BTW).
Compared to last year where I just drove to the new Tesco at Bourne every Friday evening (because it was easy) this year I am on target to save over £2,500 on my families grocery bill. Not only because the supermarkets are not as cheap as they would have you believe but because I am putting thought into my shopping rather than just taking the easy option.
But as the local shops are loosing trade to the supermarkets I must clearly be in the minority. People have a choice and it would appear that what most people want is those out of town supermarkets so as we live in a democracy why are we complaining?
The people have spoken and it’s up to the shop keepers to offer something to attract those shoppers (because clearly it’s not about money)
All very good and very valid points. Yes, one could say that democracy is all about allowing people to choose, but when does choice actually become manipulation? We are by nature, some would say, lazy, others would say clever enough to take the path of least resistance, so when something like a one stop shop is offered, we naturally take it. However, rather like the drugs that offer a shortcut to a good time, we don’t necessarily seek to encourage them because they do long term damage to our society. And just like drugs, perhaps supermarkets need to be controlled? Another good example of it being. In our nature to be easily tempted off of the best long term path for us, is the Japanese/Asian experience with Macdonalds. For a long time we were told over and over again how healthy that part of the world was compared to us, main
Y because of our diet. What happens within 20 odd years of the big M arriving? A rising obesity problem in Japan and Asia.
The other point I would stress is the greed displayed by the supermarkets in stepping so agressively in to the non-food markets of almost every other retailer on the high street – can anybody tell me one item that supermarkets now don’t sell in direct competition to the high street?