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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 14:07 GMT
North West: Supermarkets
Lucy Breakwell
The Politics Show North West

Asda
Asda is the UK's second largest retailer

When the latest addition to the Asda empire opened in Fleetwood the queue stretched out of the car park.

It is the first time there has ever been a supermarket in the town and it has been 10 years in the planning.

But these days its rare not to have an Asda, Tesco or Sainsbury's just around the corner. The four main supermarkets have cornered 80% of the grocery market.

Tesco is the largest British retailer and has around 1,800 stores - in fact 1 in 3 spent in supermarkets is in Tesco.

Asda is the second largest with 256 large stores in the country

Which leaves Sainsbury and Morrison with 727 and 363 stores respectively.

And according to a government report small and independent shops could have vanished from the country's high streets by 2015 as they are squeezed out by the supermarkets.

Something that Gordon Frankland is all too aware of.

He has a bookshop in Hale and since supermarkets have started selling cheap books his profits have plummeted.

But is it just a straightforward David and Goliath battle.

Back in Fleetwood the new store manager is confident that Asda will actually help the local traders.

And local people think a bit of healthy competition would not go amiss in Fleetwood. But is it fair competition.

Professor John Pal from Manchester Metropolitan University says supermarkets are looking for any opportunity to grow their market share and many large companies have senior executives with political experience.

But at the end of the day the big supermarkets say it is all down to consumer choice.

If people do not like supermarkets they will vote with their feet.

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