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Saturday, 5 January, 2002, 18:05 GMT
Asian corner shops 'on the decline'
Gurdip Sumal
Gurdip Sumal: Has had to sell his shop
The family-run Asian corner shop in the UK is disappearing, according to new research.

Numbers have fallen 25% in 10 years to less than 12,000 and the trend is accelerating.

They don't see a future in it

Gurdip Sumal
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University said that Asians, born and educated in Britain, were turning their backs on the long hours and low rewards that comes with working in a corner shop.

And competition from 24-hour supermarkets and discount stores has pushed corner shops into bankruptcy.

David McEvoy, head of urban geography at the university, said: "About 25% have closed because of the pressures of competition.

"And also because of the demographics of change. British-born members of the community just don't want that as a life."

Changed market

He argued the market which made the Asian corner shop successful had disappeared.

Corner shop
Supermarkets have taken business from corner shops
Until the 1950 Shops Act was repealed in 1994 it was illegal for most shops to open after 2000GMT and on Sundays, except to sell perishable goods.

Newspapers, magazines and vegetables count as perishable goods.

But now Sunday trading for stores, including 24-hour opening, discount shops in towns, as well as petrol station shops selling sandwiches, milk, soft drinks and cigarettes are taking trade away from the traditional corner shops.

Gurdip Sumal has run a shop in west London for almost 20 years.

But the shop is now sold.

Mr Sumal's oldest son works as an economist in the City.

His other children are reluctant to take over the business.

"They don't see a future in it and as you see there is so much competition from the supermarkets," Mr Sumal said.

"They have taken more than 50% of our business"

More superstores

The number of superstores increased from 733 in 1990 to 1,147 in 1998.

And the number of medium-sized chain retailers increased by more than 1,000 to 5,350.

But small independent shops reduced by 7,000 to 20,654 over the same period.

Researchers found many Asians opened shops as family-run enterprises because of high unemployment.

But now many of the displaced Asians haven chosen other self employed businesses, such as taxi driving or working in restaurants.

Research in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which includes Huddersfield, Batley, and Dewsbury, showed that the fall in Asian businesses selling food was up to 30%.

But overall the number of businesses run by Asians had increased.

The number of self-employed people in the workforce of Indian origin has fallen from 20% in 1990 to 14% as better education enabled them to get more professional jobs, the research found.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The Asian corner shop is struggling against new expectations of a new generation"
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