Local traders squeezed by superstore

20th February 2006
news
release

Six months on from the opening of the Tesco superstore in Burnage, local traders are struggling to stay in business, warns Manchester Friends of the Earth [1].

Manchester Friends of the Earth has been surveying shops in Burnage to track the impact of the new store on independent local business. In the first round of research, shortly before the opening of the store, local opinion was divided, with some shopkeepers looking forward to an increase in passing trade and others anxious of what the arrival of Tesco would bring. Six months on, a second round of surveys found that shopkeepers’ worst fears had been confirmed – customer numbers have dwindled and turnovers have plummeted to untenable depths.

S.A. Newsagents on Lane End Road had originally thought the new store would be good for business but has found that it has fewer customers and expects this situation will only get worse.

Dat Vo, owner of California Wines on Burnage Lane, told us that he is happy to diversify and respond to customer needs to compete with other businesses but that he has had to halve the size of his premises as turnover has fallen by as much as half since Tesco opened. “How can we compete when Tesco can sell something to the public at the price we pay for it at the wholesalers?” he asked.

Broomhalls, a local domestic appliance store, told Manchester Friends of the Earth: “We can offer repairs and stock a wider range of vacuum cleaners than Tesco but they can undercut us and we have had less custom since they opened.”

Local butcher Paul Millington explained: “We offer a specialist service, can order in something out of the ordinary and give customers tips on how to cook it but we’ve lost passing trade as people just drive to Tesco.”

These findings coincide with the publication of ‘High Street 2015’, a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops [2], which has proposed a number of recommendations aimed at protecting small traders, including:

· An independent retail regulator;
· A moratorium on any further mergers and takeovers;
· A stronger code of practice to protect supermarkets suppliers;
· Greater powers for local communities in planning and more explicit protection for diversity and vitality of local retailing;
· Revise the “two market” ruling which has allowed big supermarkets to take over convenience store chains with no investigation;
· Companies to be made accountable for their damage to the environment.

Manchester Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul D’Ambra says: “Small shops which offer genuine choice, good value, a personal service and a lifeline for the local community are being strangled by the presence of the Tesco superstore in Burnage. While regulation of the grocery market would go some way to safeguarding the livelihoods of independent traders, it may come too late for shopkeepers in Burnage – if it comes at all. If we really want to prevent our local communities from being swallowed up by Tesco and other multiple retailers, we need to vote with our wallets and support independent traders.”

Manchester Friends of the Earth has compiled a Real Food Guide to locally sourced, organic, GM-free and Fairtrade food, which can be accessed online at www.realfoodguide.org.uk.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at http://www.foe.co.uk).

[2] Friends of the Earth press release “Friends of the Earth Welcomes Small Shops Report” is available at:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/friends_of_the_
earth_welco0_14022006.html