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24 January 2007

Stevenson Comments On Supermarket Enquiry And Effect On Town Centres

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has stressed that much should be done to protect our town centres in the light of two reports on the effects of out of town supermarkets and shopping centres.

Speaking on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is no co-incidence that The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland has published an independent report on the effect of out-of-town supermarkets on high streets and independent retailers across Scotland on the same day as the publication of the Competition Commission’s interim report into the grocery market.

“The FSB study supports the broad view that large supermarket developments impact adversely on the retail structure of the traditional town centre.

“This report has shown a decrease in the number of convenience retailers operating in town centres, an increase in the number of vacant units and corresponding floorspace. The research shows that up to 80% of shoppers now do most of their food shopping in new out-of-town supermarkets, and as a result, as many as 78% shop less in the town centre.

“The Competition Commission has expressed its concern that supermarkets, can get into such a strong position, so that no other retailer can compete effectively, as the number of stores operated by the ‘big four’ has doubled since 2000.

“In addition, the Competition Commission (CC) report reflects the huge concerns within the Scottish farming industry over the increasing power of supermarkets. This has already been seen through the lack of a fair price given to dairy farmers for their milk.

“I am pleased to hear that the CC’s enquiry team will now be looking further into the impact of supermarket behaviour across all farming sectors. It is vital that our farmers are protected and that they are not held to ransom by the big supermarkets.
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