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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Tesco's effect on the high street
Dickon Hooper
BBC News, Bristol

Tesco Express on Gloucester Road
The store has its admirers and detractors
Shopkeepers kept their sangfroid when a Tesco Express opened in February on a busy high street in Bristol.

The majority said their customer base could sustain the competition: the new store would be right in the heart of the Gloucester Road, known for its family-run shops and customer service.

Some traders - there are bakers, cafes, greengrocers, a butchers and a Somerfield within 100 metres - even argued that Tesco's presence could be positive by bringing in more trade.

But there were dissenters. Jayanty Patel, whose shop, Pats News, is now a few doors down from the Express, said: "They affect everyone - newspapers, fruit shops and bakeries. It will depend on whether people support us."

Eight months later and Phil Fordham, owner of the Bakers' Basket, also close to the store, is considering closing after more than 20 years. He says that Tesco has had a negative effect.

Trade drop-off

"Things have been quieter, with less people coming in. It's more passing trade [that's gone] - our regular customer base hasn't really changed, he said.

"Closing up is something we are looking at for a combination of reasons - trade is getting quieter across the country, we've lost a little bit to Tescos and I'm looking at the hours I'm putting in."

Mr Patel added that he had also noticed a "drop-off" in trade since February.

If shops close down people simply move on to another shopping area. It's about keeping shoppers local
Tesco
"If people are buying groceries and a paper there, that is different. But they are going and only buying papers there.

"You can't do anything. People go there. There has been a 25 to 30% loss [in trade]."

Andrew Simms, from the New Economics Foundation, is not surprised. He says that supermarkets reduce local diversity and take money out of the local economy.

"The trend is that trade is lost by the local independent retailers. The marketing power [of the supermarkets] gives them an unfair advantage."

But Tesco says its Express stores complement other shops.

'Prosperous community'

"If shops close down people simply move on to another shopping area. It's about keeping shoppers local. It's about working together," a spokeswoman said.

"Like any good retailer our aim is to be part of a prosperous business community where all retailers benefit by providing more choice to attract more customers."

Gloucester Road
The Gloucester Road is well known in Bristol

Other Gloucester Road retailers told BBC News that Tescos had not affected them.

Mike Russ, of Alex Fruits, said the main problem for traders in the road was parking restrictions.

"A lot of people go into Tescos who want to shop after we're shut. It's not a problem. If it was a Tesco superstore next door, it probably would make a big difference."

Barry Graham, who runs the deli counter at the butchers, T & PA Murray, added: "I don't think they have affected us. What has helped has been TV programmes about the supermarkets.

"We've picked up a lot of business by people now understanding what happens to their meat."

Professor Ian Clarke, from the Lancaster University Management School, says the consumer now "wants more choice and something different".

"Retail provision has changed, as have our lifestyles. People are far busier and are struggling to fit in shopping.

"Very local provision is still insufficient and there is an element of being fed up with Tescos and the rest and wanting something different: it is about being local to where you live and work."

If it is about being local, then Mr Simms has a parting argument - local shops, once gone, find it very hard to come back.




SEE ALSO:
Independent corner shops decline
20 May 05 |  Business
Revamp planned for store - again
28 Feb 05 |  Bristol/Somerset
New store upsets residents
19 Mar 03 |  England


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