Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thumbs Down from Jury; THE SUPERMARKET DEBATE Big Stores ARE Seen as Threat to Communities

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thumbs Down from Jury; THE SUPERMARKET DEBATE Big Stores ARE Seen as Threat to Communities

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Wood

IF the Competition Commission hoped to lay the great supermarket debate to rest with its report this week - it failed. The Journal Jury has been considering the long-awaited report into the dominance of the big four supermarket chains and most see them as a threat.

Jurors were asked to consider the question: "Major supermarkets: good for consumers or a threat to local communities and services?"

Fifty seven per cent viewed them as a threat with only 25% feeling they were a good thing.

Eighteen per cent saw both sides of the argument - with most feeling their effects on local communities and economies had to be carefully monitored.

Colette Harrison, of Chester-le-Street, said: "They are a big threat to communities. We haven't used one for a year for that reason."

Barry Thompson, of Hexham, added: "They've already destroyed local businesses, and its going to get worse over the next few years. Small local businesses just cannot compete on price."

Mike Brown, of Ponteland, sees major supermarkets as "a definite threat to keeping a good range of local shops and they cause problems for those without access to transport".

Andrew Duffield, of Longwhitton, Northumberland, says the law should be changed to "level the playing field". He said: "Supermarkets should pay full business rates on their massive car parks. Rates for smaller businesses could then be lowered on a revenue neutral basis."

Ailsa Reid, of East Boldon, South Tyneside, is well aware of the threat but also sees the benefits.

She said: "They are a threat to local communities and services, but they do also provide jobs." But Nathan Bilton, Low Fell, Gateshead, said: "Local shops are always going to be more convenient, but they can't compete with supermarkets.

And their strength and buying power is destroying farms." Anthony Sargent, of Gateshead, said: "They are good for consumers, provided they can be regulated in such a way as not to dominate retail marketplace choice to a destructive extent."

David Stead, of Cramlington, sees the threat on a wider scale. He said: "They are a real threat. We're realising the consequences too late. Specialist shops, variety and personal services are already disappearing.

Customer costs are rising but it's all going to their profits, not the producer."

But Ann Brown, of Tynemouth, is a fan. She said: "Providing there is good competition among them, supermarkets are the only means of keeping prices down. I meet many of my friends while in my local supermarket and always have a chat. Maybe a few sit-and-chat areas would be a good idea."

And Oliver Vaiolhard, of Newcastle, said: "Smaller businesses can succeed but must ensure they have an offering that appeals to the needs of customers.

There can be enough opportunities for both to prosper. …

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