The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the call for an MP debate on the future of supermarkets. Conservative MP Mark Field called for the Westminster Hall debate following criticism of the Competition Commission’s final report and recommendations on the grocery market. He and other MPs have said that more should be done to create a level playing field between supermarkets and
smaller, independent shops. ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The debate showcased that MPs care passionately about competition and diversity in retailing as well as the future of the high street. What is absolutely clear is that the Competition Commission’s report has not satisfied the concerns about the future of the market and of local shops in particular.
“The extent of MP support gives us great heart as we continue our campaign for a fair and diverse grocery market.”
The ACS said those who wanted action included David Drew, MP for Stroud, who said he was “disappointed” in the final report, adding that “competition alone will never sort out the grocery market, let alone wider retailing.” Drew also raised the issue of the 15% buying price differential, saying that “it is by nature anti-competitive because none of the independents can compete.” He concluded: “I heavily criticise the commission for the belief that competition per se compensates for the fact the high street may have been weakened.”
Andrew George MP again criticised the Commission for not recognising the “enormous loss of local shops” which has taken place. He pointed out that the Commission found 43 cases of anti-competitive practice, compared to 27 in 2000. He said: “Supermarkets bully suppliers, make them pay for special offers and, unquestionably, add to the carbon footprint of shopping and retail in general.”
Meanwhile, Brian Binely MP, who has recently lead a Commission into small shops on the high street for the Conservative party said “small shops are the lifeblood of local economies in many of our small communities and provide a lifeline to local residents.”