Business

Supermarket sells discounted products to low-income families

  • 9 December 2013
  • From the section Business
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Media captionA shop in Barnsley has started selling heavily-discounted items donated by some of the big supermarkets

The UK's first 'social supermarket' has opened for business, selling cheap products to people on welfare support.

The Community Shop will sell items ranging from food to toothpaste up to 70% cheaper from a store at Goldthorpe, a former mining village near Barnsley.

It is backed by big retailers, and customers must be receiving benefits and live in a certain postcode area.

The shop sells retailers' surplus stock, and items with damaged packaging or incorrect labelling.

The idea for the supermarket is modelled on similar welfare outlets on mainland Europe.

Customers will be checked to ensure they are eligible to use the supermarket, and membership cards will be issued.

Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Asda, and Tetley are among the many organisations supplying products for the supermarket.

First

There are many charitable and co-operative food projects in the UK, such as the food banks run by the Trussell Trust, which provides a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK.

But the Community Shop is the first of its kind, said Sarah Dunwell, director of social affairs at Company Shop, the organisation that is running the supermarket.

"All the products are wholesome or fit-for-purpose, but for some reason were not going to make it onto the shelves of a supermarket," she said.

"We think that people who are really struggling to stretch their household budget should be able to access this food," Ms Dunwell said.

The Company Shop is the UK's largest commercial re-distributor of surplus food and products.

Profits from sales at the Community Shop will be re-invested in the supermarket itself, and in "support services" on the premises. These include advice on writing job applications, cookery classes, and debt advisory services.

There are ambitions to create 20 supermarket branches, but it was decided to open the first at Goldthorpe as it is one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

"It's potentially a winner for lots of people," said Chris Goulden, head of poverty at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. "It's good for the community, who can buy cheap food. It's providing jobs. And it's good for companies, who otherwise would have to dispose of the food that's been left."

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