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What Effects Do Supermarkets Have on Local Shops?

Daniel saw firsthand what kind of effects supermarkets can have on local shops.

Are supermarkets good for the local community? Or do they hurt local shops?

Are supermarkets good for the local community? Or do they hurt local shops?

Are Supermarkets Good or Bad for Local Shops?

When a supermarket chain announces it's drawing up plans to create a store in a new town, have you ever thought about the implications for the local shops of that town?

By local shops, I mean all of the smaller shops that offer a similar product range to that of the supermarket, whether it be:

  • Local coffee shops
  • Fishmongers
  • Butchers
  • Convenience stores
  • Sweet shops
  • Tea shops
  • Stationary suppliers
  • Video game stores
  • News agencies

Supermarkets now cover other services, such as pharmacy services. Pharmacists who have just completed their hard-earned four-year degree see that their degree is being undervalued, reflected by the wages offered to them working in a supermarket chain such as Tesco or Sainsbury's.

In this article, I will examine the positive and negative effects that a supermarket has on local shops and communities to ascertain whether having so many in the long run is a good idea for our overall economy.

Arguments in opposition to the expansion of supermarkets

Arguments in opposition to the expansion of supermarkets

Arguments Against the Expansion of Supermarkets

Supermarkets can have negative effects on the communities around them, as well as the local shops.

Supermarkets Reduce the Community Spirit

At supermarkets, there is generally very little sense of community. People go in, they buy what they need, and they leave. This lack of communication is seen as very damaging to us not only as individuals but, perhaps most importantly, to the rapidly vanishing community spirit that once thrived a few generations ago. This makes our country more introverted and individualistic.

Smaller Shops Can't Compete

Large supermarkets open up their bigger stores away from the town centres. This attracts people away from the city centre and into the suburbs. This has a huge impact on the high street.

Supermarkets Only Offer Superficial Choice

They take away the consumer's choice by making it challenging for smaller niche businesses to survive. Supermarkets like to tell us that they have a huge range of products; however, what they do is prey on consumer ignorance.

For example, yes, supermarkets sell fruit and vegetables; however, you are less likely to find locally produced seasonal products in a supermarket than in a local fruit and vegetable store. Smaller stores have a wide selection of one particular product, whereas supermarkets will have only a few of that product for sale, giving the consumer less choice overall.

Money for the Rich, Less for the Poor

While supermarkets create jobs, the spread of wealth is greatly diminished. Now, if somebody is to own their own coffee shop, then they could look forward to at least £20,000–£30,000+ annually; if that same person works for the cafe in a supermarket, then they will only earn £15,000, with the rest of what they should be earning going to the chairs and directors of supermarkets or overhead costs.

Supermarkets Are Worse for Our Health and the Environment

Supermarkets sell a lot of products, and they have to keep their products fresh for long periods of time; this means that they have to process their food supply. Food processing is well known for having adverse effects on our health, leading to heart problems, higher risk of cancer, more prone to illnesses as well as simply not getting as much nutrition out of what we eat.

Supermarkets are bad for the environment because, as previously discussed, they will generally be built in rural suburbs, which means that cars will be needed for people to reach them.

Arguments in favor of the growth of supermarkets

Arguments in favor of the growth of supermarkets

Arguments for Supermarket Growth

Supermarkets can also have positive effects on the economy and the local community.

Supermarkets Can Revitalize Communities

I live next to Seaforth Road in Liverpool, United Kingdom. For years, this road and the surrounding area had become a ghost town with very few businesses operating. A well-known supermarket chain opened next to the road, and almost instantaneously (within a few months), the surrounding community began to pick up.

New shops opened up offering some very good and niche products, new services were being offered and most importantly, there was a huge influx of people coming into the road which means plenty of potential customers to be had. This shows that supermarkets can be very good for local communities that have lost their way. It gives smaller businesses the customers they require to sell their products or services.

They Can Keep Up With Population Growth

While shopping locally when we can is great, can you imagine if everyone did that? The smaller businesses would never be able to meet the demands of our huge population levels in most of our bigger cities and their suburbs. Put bluntly – we need supermarkets to bring in the amount of product they do because if they didn't, some of us would be going without food for a while.

Supermarkets Create Jobs

Many of us are aware that finding employment is a lot harder these days. Supermarkets bring us jobs that anyone can do without any real training; of course, the wage offered is truly pathetic in comparison to many other positions, but at least it's a step in the right direction for those of us who have no formal qualifications or experience.

They Cater to Our Fast-Paced Lives

As opposed to shopping around all day for different products, we can generally find all we need at one supermarket. Nobody wants to waste time shopping anymore, and supermarkets have made it even easier for us by allowing us to shop online and have our goods delivered to our homes. This is a service that most smaller businesses do not yet provide.

Supermarkets Can Offer Products at a Lower Price

Basically, when you buy wholesale, the more you buy, the cheaper you can get it. Supermarkets have the capital to buy huge amounts of product, meaning they can sell it cheaper than the smaller businesses that can't compete with the amount of stock being bought.

The truth is that we need supermarkets in today's world, whether we like them or not.

The truth is that we need supermarkets in today's world, whether we like them or not.

The Reality: We Need Supermarkets

Supermarkets are a necessary evil. They offer ludicrously unjustified salary deficits between the workers and the top brass of the company which has a difference of something like 300:1 in ratio – legal daylight robbery happening right before our eyes.

Only slightly more than one hundred years ago was it the norm for the workers to own the factory they worked in, and the difference in wages was only around 20:1 in ratio. Unfortunately, what we have now is a system that caters to an elite few to horde money for their own pockets and families while the rest of us struggle to live day to day.

We rely on supermarkets to get by. If they all disappeared overnight, there would be a worldwide famine for the Western world. Hopefully, with time, we will become less and less reliant on the bigger supermarkets, meaning we can start to spread the wealth out a bit more evenly.

Further Reading