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What cost for lower prices?
By Claire Peters
The Chamber of Commerce has raised serious concerns about the impact a third supermarket will have on the island’s existing small businesses and farm shops.
There are serious concerns about the impact that a third supermarket in Jersey will have on existing farm shops and small businesses.
Ahead of the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority’s consultation report the Chamber of Commerce has expressed worries about introducing another food retailer into the island.
Clive Spears, the president of the Chamber, believes that there's a number of issues which will not be included in the consulation paper but are important to consider.
Is the end of independent stores nigh?
Bad for small business?
He thinks that the most serious concern is the impact that a third supermarket would have on convenience stores and farm shops.
“At the moment we have a small business fabric across the island that supports a fair element of local shopping, premium shopping and it supports the agricultural industry as well,” explained Mr Spears.
“I’m worried if a large supermarket comes in it can well tip the balance for a small business… I fear for small business and the pressure it’s put under.”
He is also worried about the effect on farming that a UK supermarket would have.
Recently the Minister for Economic Development reported some positive recovery in the agriculture industry and Mr Spears fears that a new supermarket will stunt that growth.
He said that the existing supermarkets in the island “take good intake from agriculture locally" but doesn’t believe a UK company would necessarily use local suppliers.
'It's not just cheaper prices'
Leigh Sparks, a leading retail professor from Stirling University, agreed with many of the Chamber of Commerce’s worries.
Do supermarkets impact on farm shops?
Like the Chamber of Commerce, the professor wanted to highlight that it’s not as simple as more competition, lower costs for consumers:
“It’s not just cheaper prices and everything else stays the same - it wouldn’t be like that.”
He described that there would be “knock on effects on other sorts of retailing and retail support industries that there are on the island”.
'Detrimental to Jersey' warns professor
Professor Sparks suggested that a new UK supermarket in the island would result in consumers changing their shopping habits which will have an impact on local shops, convenience stores and village centres.
He was impressed with the “strong development” of farm shops over the past few years and believes that potentially these local small businesses “could be damaged with a large new superstore”.
“I think that [a new retailer] would be detrimental to Jersey and to the farming market on Jersey,” he said.
Do you want to see a third supermarket provider?
Why is Jersey expensive?
The Chamber of Commerce believes that the JCRA consultation has not paid enough attention to why food prices are higher in Jersey than the UK.
“The reason is simply because it’s expensive to send all the food here in the first place”, Mr Spears explained, “so first of all it makes sense to sell what it is produced locally”.
“Yes, you could get some lower prices - but what are we going to exchange for that?” he asked.
last updated: 09/01/2008 at 16:29
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