Having been through several Competition Commission inquiries about unfair competition in the petrol retailing sector - supermarkets undercutting fuel prices and so on - all to no avail, no one in our industry expected anything more from the government’s provisional report into the grocery retailing sector.
Petrol retailers have been there, got the t-shirt, and in the subsequent years said goodbye to a great many forecourts. The conclusion - so far - is that the small players are not under threat from the big players. Well, as Jonathan James so aptly commented, the Commission must have looked at a totally different market to the one most people operate in. Not to mention the simple physics that big things generally do crush small things when left to get out of control.
But more than actually not doing anything to keep some kind of control in the playground, a more worrying and rather bizarre aspect of the report is that the Commission thinks there should be more supermarkets. That’s not going to be very comfortable for any convenience store/forecourt caught in the crossfire.
Is anyone actually going to be happy about that? Neither consumers, nor other retailers - nor even the supermarkets who’ve gone to such lengths to cordon off the land around them - want more supermarkets. Besides, shouldn’t the momentum now - with the government’s own drive for climate change strategies - be for more local independent grocery retailers, supplying more local produce, cutting down on road transport emissions?
Ironic though, that it’s no longer the supermarkets causing havoc with fuel prices, but one of our ’own’ - Shell!