Why supermarkets are good for us…

Fellow blogger and (grand?) son of the County Down takes the Tory’s newly co-opted enviroment Tzar, Zac Goldsmith to task over his attack on the NFU and the large supermarkets yesterday.

  • Crataegus

    The problem with Tim Worstall’s point of view is, if the system forces down prices and the suppliers go under it is in the end self destructing. The lack of real competition and regulation is unhealthy in the long run and the system (tax, planning etc) seems to be hell bent on favouring the strong and penalising the weak.

    Of course when you have the likes of Lord Sainsbury donating loose change to the Labour Party every now and then you must ask does this influence a government? http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/regulatory-issues/regdpoliticalparties.cfm?ec=%7Bts '2005%2D12%2D13 01%3A26%3A55'%7D

    I think fuel cost and the internet will give the large retailers real pain in the medium term. There will be lots of out of town sheds for future manufacturing production, but right now we see urban blight along our arterial routes as the result of retail closures, and guess who picks up the cost of that?

  • “if the system forces down prices and the suppliers go under it is in the end self destructing.”

    All those buggy whip manufacturers we should have saved a century ago, right?

  • Crataegus

    Tim

    We stopped buying buggy whips, it is not that we bought them at ever decreasing prices and forced the suppliers under.

    Large retailers have unfair tax advantages over their smaller completion we should at least level out a few of the anomalies in the market so that there is fair competition.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Tim,

    It’s not hard to imagine a time in the future where a completely deregulated agricultural sector could lead to the complete end of large scale farming throughout Europe. Strategically speaking, do you think it makes sense to be reliant on foreign countries for food supplies ?

  • DK

    CS,

    The EU’s problem is not lack of food, but rather too much food – which is then effectively dumped on 3rd world markets leading to the collapse of food crops and a dependence on cash crops, which aren’t much help if the local food supply dries up or the cash crop fails. Look at Ireland in the famine: forced to grow cash crops, local food supply fails – millions die/emigrate before the government gets an andequate response together.

  • Crataegus

    DK & CS

    Both points are well made and complement each other. Do we want to be entirely reliant on a global market? What are our business sectors that are of strategic importance where we need to ensure local viability for reasons of security?

    The problem with the free marketers is that they fail to see the imbalances in the system and over sell their case. I am all for free trade but it needs to be fair and the market needs to be regulated to set basic ground rules. If we look at the growth of the Chinese economy it is as much due to massive state intervention. If they had left everything to the market they would still be in the paddy fields.

    As for local retail shops, unless convenience stores or specialist, in the short term they have had it. With regards super markets in the medium term much depends on energy costs and we could see internet use decimating complete retail & service sectors, travel agents, insurance, banking, electrical goods, books, etc. The UK retail sector is worth 240 billion. In 2000 internet sales were virtually nothing, but now are at least 5 billion and some think 10 billion would be more accurate. We are in for a period of change.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The problem with the free marketers is that they fail to see the imbalances in the system and over sell their case. I am all for free trade but it needs to be fair and the market needs to be regulated to set basic ground rules.

    I agree with what you’ve been saying. You also made the point about local shops having had their day. That is certainly true, though there are some areas where I think there should be state intervention, for example in the case of chemists and pharmacies, where there is usually at least one qualified pharmacist on hand to help with suggesting appropriate remedies for various ailments. They play an important role in keeping the load off the health system.

    If we look at the growth of the Chinese economy it is as much due to massive state intervention. If they had left everything to the market they would still be in the paddy fields.

    China subsidizes it’s industry to the point where I feel quite strongly that we shouldn’t be trading with them. I’m entirely in favour of global markets for goods and services, I’m certainly in favour of governments stepping in to enhance training and education, but at the moment a company I work with in the electronic equipment sector is finding itself competing not with a rival company in China, but instead with the Chinese government which funds a limitless R&D budget. It’s almost impossible to go up against that.

  • “It’s not hard to imagine a time in the future where a completely deregulated agricultural sector could lead to the complete end of large scale farming throughout Europe. Strategically speaking, do you think it makes sense to be reliant on foreign countries for food supplies ?”

    Since you ask. Yes.

  • G.M.C.

    Surely we want diversity as well as pleasntness and ease, now that faddism has been reclining for some time. Too, the sense of having to submit to the whims of new large scale developments is no longer dominant, most medium to large scale developments are appreciated though and do very well.

    This might mean that as corner store grocers re-appear, they hopefully will have the choice of old, and of new developments in the market including more exotic produce, though I imagine that their baskets of each item will be slimmer and shallower than before.

    Perhaps a new combined franchising operation could be developed which promotes local shops in selling quantities of goods of a couple of the big supermarkets as well as choose other goods they have supplied themselves.

    I have also in the past foreseen, and retain this vision, alliances between individually stores in say a whole quarter of a city or a whole large town, where a shared minibus may ship in to one store from a nearby store produce whose stocks are dwindling, and goods requested by customers which may be picked up for example in the evening or later that evening. Off licence and pharmacy choice are further elements to general stores: what isn’t offered can be found.

    The rationale is that people who are increasingly working at home mostly with computers, will prefer to go for a walk for ten or fifteen minutes to their local store most days a few times a day, than drive and spend fourty minutes or more picking up two bags of shopping, and possibly getting into traffic.

    I for one badly require freqently corner stores, grocers or stores with decent grocery provision, all over the place. I quite often dislike that the only option is to drive to a big place and queue up for at least as long as maybe than anyone ever did in a corner store, even though there is often a long row of shop asisstants with check-outs.

    ‘Corner store’ general shops never disappeared at all, rather many were bought by chains owning new pretty similar stores. It is the grocery element we need restored, and bakery element. I was always sure that people would come back to local small stores in addition to the big developments, and that these were likely then often shrink a bit.

    It is not really that more people have cars today than twenty years ago, 1985, around when the mass closure of the local stores was at its peak. I think this might be only true to a slight extent. Are we consuming more? Yet we are more healthy, generally, probably; more of us are involved in fitness.

    Whatever the preference, I believe that the large outlet will be very popular, but I think that maybe around a third of these will shrink a bit in size. The local store will become popular again, I foresee, though with less stock naturally, and perhaps the small-to-medium sized store which has not vanished though is less prevalent will become a bit more prevalent generally, and will become less boring and homogenised.

    (A reply like this has been given before and more than once, I think last time at Easter time this year.)

  • G.M.C.

    I really am sorry for the typing mistakes. It keeps happening. A new keyboard is becoming a must.