High Street Could Lose Xmas Shopping 'War'
Fears that consumers are reining in their spending ahead of Christmas were fuelled after the latest retail figures showed a 0.1% rise in retail sales in November.
It comes after a much worse than expected drop in October when retail sales volumes fell 0.8% month-on-month.
Household goods showed their strongest monthly rise since 2010, mainly driven by tablet computer sales.
Across all retailing, an estimated £7.3bn was spent weekly in November, around the same as last year.
But, despite the small increase, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged shoppers to support independent high street retailers - or risk losing them for good.
For the FSB, it is a case of "use them or lose them".
It said the small shops are being swallowed up by the aggressive dominance and predatory pricing strategies of supermarkets, which for example can offer free parking to their advantage.
The FSB also blamed spiralling VAT and rents and, on many streets, increasing business rates.
It added the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) appeals process for business owners and tenants seeking rate relief is too slow and that some are forced to wait years.
According to the Competition Commission, since 2000 there has been a steady growth of 3% in new supermarkets owned by the UK's five largest retailers.
But, in contrast, the All-party Small Shops Group warned, should the present rate of decline continue, most of the UK's smaller retailers could be forced to close by 2015.
In its 2008 report, the Parliamentary Enterprise Group repeated that warning.
Meanwhile, global information and insights company Nielsen has said the UK's leading supermarkets will be relying on strong advertising in the final weeks of Christmas after the slowdown in sales last month.
It said the end of November saw a significant increase in TV and Press advertising, particularly around wines, spirits, beers and seasonal products ahead of Christmas.
During the four weeks ending December 2, Tesco was the highest spending supermarket on TV and Press at £11.8m, just ahead of Asda at £11.2m, then Sainsbury £7.3m and Morrisons £7.1m - all figures lower than at this stage last year.
Nielsen's UK head of retailer insight Mike Watkins said: "Because shoppers are planning visits to take advantage of the many offers available this year we, therefore, expect continued use of media spend across all channels in the next few days to encourage them into store and to buy any remaining indulgences at the same time."
what do you think?
Price sensitivity. At end of day small businesses do not have the luxury of bulk buying, hence their prices are not competitive. Only a matter of time
Ali, supermarkets are no longer cheap. And you are expected to serve yourself. The big problem small shopholder faces is that the average shopper these days cares nothing at all for local loyalty. I would say price is not even the main consideration for them, it's convenience and time. Also, a High Street doesn't have a roof on it. Where I live, I commonly hear people mourning the state of their High Street - as they head to a supermarket or convenience store at a petrol station.
Brian You are right there about supermarket prices. Have you also noticed how many self serve checkouts are springing up? They drive me mad as there is always something that goes wrong. They will be asking us to stack the shelves ourselves next
in reference to price Brian, you are right supermarkets aint cheap anymore, but they still cheaper then your local small business. the world is more expensive cause of macro economics, things like the price of oil and labor etc
Dave, I always refuse to use the self-service checkouts - not least because I am not on the Tesco payroll. What these supermarkets are actually doing is wanting us to do someone's job for no pay! Supermarkets often get planning permission on the back of promises of the ghreat number of jobs they will bring to the area. These "jobs" are invariably low-pay, part-time and short contract - and they come at the expense of existing jobs in local shops that have to close because of the supermarket agressively pricing them out.
Ali, I will even beg to differ with you on that point. Our local Tesco has been slipping in 20% price increases all over the place and is now one of the most expensive places to shop in our town. In manby cases the local man is cheaper, but he still loses out because of convenience and parking - and the supermarkets know that.
brian i live london. the pricing strategy will be different to your area.
Supermarkets have killed off a lot of towns by selling everything.they should stick to selling food. I work in retail as does my son and youngest daughter
Diane, I totally agree with you. But you know as well as I do that as soon as a supermarket has wiped out the local competition in any comodity they then maximise their prices. It very unfortunate for local retailers that customers no longer give two hoots about quality or service and give the majority of trade to national multiples who drain the money straight out of the local economy.
Exactly Brian.to me Tesco is the worst I went there once the food was awful.never went again,That was part of Woolworths downfall I worked for them left before they closed very sad day that was it was my first job when I was 15 Saturday girl then worked full time
Yes, the government rants on about how much food we waste but that is the fault of the supermarkets selling "fresh" produce that is fit for the bin 3 days or less after it came out of their refridgerator. You simply cannot compare the freshness and full-on flavour of meat and vegetables from local butchers and greengrocers with the rubbish that supermarkets sell. But people no longer know nor care what they are missing. TheFrench or Italian peoples would not accept the dross we buy.
Our High Streets have been dying for years because of the reasons given above. it is nothing new. Our small local traders are being mercilessly slaughtered by high taxes and supermarkets. The Government has known this for years but they are simply finishing off the job as they seek to asset strip everything they can in their remorseless quest for ever more revenue. Say goodbye to Britain as you know it because our towns are having the heart torn out of them. Does any other country - with the exception of the USA - allow this to happen to their national character?
Brian. You can also throw high business rates and the cost of parking into the mix, all of which are imposed by the same local councils who are bemoaning the death of the high street
Dave , here in N. Ireland our excuse for a government has recently doubled the parking fines, increased parking charges by 50% and removed almost all free carparks. One of our large towns now has the distinction of having the highest rate of vacant shops in the UK. Now they are advocating the Mary Portas Principles, one of which is to fill the middle of High Streets with market stalls (more cheap competition!) They are listening to everybody except the shopkeepers because they don't want to hear what they know is the truth. Small local businesses are doomed.
Regrettably you're right Brian. The Royal Town of Caernarfon is now ''Charity Shop Town'', surrounded by Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Iceland.
cheaper on line. they ask to much
On line retailers don't have the sane overheads as shops
That's the stuff, Simon. Send your money abroad. Enjoy it while you can.
It may be cheaper online, but is it better value? The small retailer ha usually tended to be slightly more expensive, however, they usually provide a much better service both at point of sale and later, if things go wrong! It also depends on what you are buying.
Quite, Charles. If someone's cooker, for example, blows up on Christmas Eve, my husband or his colleagues will deliver and set up a new one that day. Most of their customers repeatedly return for this reason. Bigger retailers can't or won't do this and of course, ordering such a thing online would result in a longer delay. To their customers, reliability and dependability is everything.
Charles/Movvi. I do some shopping on line but usually for small things like dvd's & books. Larger items and electricals I go to local shops or supermarkets so I have somewhere to go back to if it turns out to be duff
If you take away pay from the workers, cut their hours, sack them, how the h**l do you expect anyone except the rich few, to carry on spending as if there was no tomorrow, I can remember cammeron telling us all to save more a couple of years ago! Now he wants us to spend all, does this sound like a catch 22?
Nothing wrong with that comment, James. Why the minus ?
We let our manufacturing base die and built our economy on consuming imported goods. Mr Blair probably still thinks this is OK !
It didn't just die, Thatcher slaughtered it.