25 January 2007

Save small shops by shopping there

One of the major largely unchallenged themes in the UK media at the moment is the “plight of small shops”. You see apparently it is bad that 75% of shopping is undertaken at four large supermarket chains (this is called a monopoly? Has anyone read the definition), with the rest at small independently owned stores.
A rather peculiar middle class concern is that these big chains, such as Tesco are soulless, offer less variety and “do harm” to shops that people no longer use because they prefer Tesco. A weirder concern is that these big chains have substantial buying power from food producers, so demand ever lower prices from them – because, apparently, consumers don’t matter in this. Another accusation is that they buy tracts of land suitable for shops and don’t use them, to shut out the competition. Follow it so far? Well it is like this:
- Most of the time people choose to shop at big supermarkets, presumably because they are convenient, have the varieties people want and are cheap (one family asked by the BBC to try shopping at local independent stores instead of supermarkets/mega stores described how it took far longer to go to the independent stores, how the variety was often inferior and the prices far higher). So in essence people are voting with their feet and wallets, most of the time they don’t want to spend their money at independent stores:
- Independent store owners don’t like this, so they pull at the nostalgia strings of peoples’ hearts accusing big stores of being ugly (sometimes true), and how “important it is” (to the shop owners) to have high streets with lots of varieties of stores, and that it is “a pity” (to the shop owners) for these shops to close down;
- Independent store owners which cannot attract enough business accuse big stores than can attract enough business of acting “unfairly” somehow. These accusations largely focus on being “too cheap” (for the competing shops) and by teaming up with suppliers who undoubtedly prefer being paid more by many small shop owners (because the supplier can be the price setter rather than the buyer);
- Small minded politicians of all political creeds jump on this bandwagon on nostalgia grounds, demanding something be done.
The answer is simple. If you like small shops in your area, ask yourself when was the last time you actually bought something there and how much was it? If you don’t support the shop, it wont remain and don’t expect everyone else who doesn’t see value in spending THEIR money at the shop to pay for it. After all, why should a family pay more for food and clothes at small stores just because you like the store existing?
There is a competition body investigation into this, remember we are talking about four major chains shutting out competition - not one, and there is still plenty of choice. Within 15 minutes of my flat I can choose between three supermarkets (one independent) and umpteen convenience stores.
David Cameron supports this stupid campaign – don’t be surprised, it appeals to the upper class conservative who thinks that working class people shopping in malls is “vulgar” and doesn’t care that people on low incomes demand convenience and low prices over boutique stores with personal service. It also appeals to the socialist who hates businesses being so successful that they become franchises and more and more people use them. After all, we can't simply let businesses rise or fall on the basis of what consumers want can we??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post again. Keep up the good work. Your blogging is appreciated and well read. A voice of reason, sanity, and liberalism. Hear hear!