Sunday, January 29, 2006

UK: Damn you supermarkets for...working well.

UK: The nanny state continues as MPs are trying to get an anti-super mart drive going.

MPs will demand a series of Draconian curbs on the power of the supermarkets in a hard-hitting report into the future of the high street to be published next week. The report by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group will call for the Office of Fair Trading to trigger a full-blown investigation into the supermarket sector. Of equal concern to the giant retailers will be a series of policy recommendations which go to the heart of the giant retailers' business model. They include: · an end to what MPs will say is the unfair advantage supermarkets derive from offering free car parking while shoppers wishing to use local stores have to pay to park on the high street · the wiping out of advantageous business rates for supermarkets · measures to allow local authorities to find resources to fight planning applications by supermarkets · stiff sanctions if supermarkets exceed the floorspace they are given planning permission for. Earlier this month, a Friends of the Earth report concluded that there is a growing trend for supermarket groups to flout restrictions.
Any reports by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and Friends of the Earth groups are sure to be objective and fair-minded.
The fact that MPs are calling for the OFT to trigger a Competition Commission investigation will pile further pressure on the regulator to recommend a probe. It is currently weighing up whether to do so and will decide by the summer. The previous investigation, five years ago, was widely criticised for failing to address the plight of small shops which in the last decade have been severely reduced - with 30,000 going to the wall. A new investigation will be a bitter blow to Tesco in particular. Britain's number one retailer controls more than 30 per cent of the British grocery market, worth £80bn. By 2010, the firm's share of is predicted to be 45 per cent. Campaigners say moves by Tesco and the other supermarkets to launch small, in-town formats in the past five years have redrawn the retail map and raise serious competition issues. Tesco is aiming to double its 600 small stores by 2012.
The horror, you mean the supermarkets are creating stores that fit into the regulations the government set and are being successful? Its called competition, small stores can survive against big competitors by focusing on customer service, goods the bigger stores may not carry and more value for the buck to the consumer.

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