LONDON – Corner shops in the country could be an extinct animal by the next decade owing to the aggressive expansion of the big four supermarkets, according to a latest report by MPs. This is especially true because independent wholesalers are almost out of the business, says the report. LONDON – Corner shops in the country could be an extinct animal by the next decade owing to the aggressive expansion of the “big four” supermarkets, according to a latest report by MPs. This is especially true because independent wholesalers are almost out of the business, says the report.
Supermarkets will say that they are also providing convenience stores, but the prospect for the independent operator is very, very bleak indeed,” said Jim Dowd, the Labour MP, who is the chairman of an all-party group that tabled this report. “This is a sector that chains were not even in a little more than five years ago and now they have more than 600 stores.”
The report also claimed that this extended domination of the supermarkets would result in the creation of “food deserts” across the country and pose hardship for the old and infirm who would have to travel the extra mile to take care of their needs. The MPs also said that this trend would affect the publishing industry as well and small magazines could be wiped out in the near future.
This corner shop sector is believed to be worth around 120 billion. The latest report will add to the woes of the Government which could be forced to intervene. Smaller shops are disappearing from the retail landscape at a rate of 2,000 per year, the report said. In 2000, there were 30,000 small shops, but this number has currently dwindled to 20,000. This attrition has been unabated and has coincided with the emergence and domination of Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Morrisons.
The big supermarkets do not drag people off the streets into their stores. There is no doubting their reputation for value for money and good-quality produce. But it is a question of what the secondary effects of that are: is it sustainable over the long term when competition is being eradicated so ruthlessly? Mr Dowd asked.
He added that Tesco had informed MPs of its intentions to add 1,200 small shops over the next decade. This report will pressurize the Government to conduct another investigation into the whole issue. Earlier in August, the Office of Fair Trading had rejected the demand to refer the issue to the Competition Commission since it found no violations.