Fears For Local Businesses As Supermarkets Move Into Portswood

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The construction of two new supermarkets in Portswood has left the High Street’s remaining local businesses fearing for their future.

In addition to a 50,000 square feet Sainsbury’s, currently under construction opposite the Mitre Pub, a provisional green light has also been given for a second supermarket on Westridge Road. The chain has not yet been announced.

This will bring the total of supermarkets on or around Portswood Road up to five. The increased competition is likely to have a serious effect on local traders.

Andy Jackson of Longs Greengrocers stated that, “It can’t be a good thing for us. It will certainly have a big knock on effect. Until it actually happens, you can’t make any guarantees as to whether it will be the end or not.”

Ganaways, who have been trading on Portswood Road for over 30 years are also concerned for their future. Over the last decade, Portswood has lost a number of local businesses, including a butchers and a bakers.

They have been replaced by an unusually large array of charity shops, a negative factor for employment and the character of the High Street.

Sainsbury’s told the Wessex Scene that they are confident their store will help local businesses, ‘‘Sainsbury’s investment in Portswood will not only enhance the overall retail offer of the district centre, it will also help keep people shopping locally. Our new store will retain and attract shoppers who currently travel elsewhere for greater main food shopping choice.”

However, this logic is not shared by local business owners who fear the increased competition from a superstore will see their remaining base of customers desert their stores.

In addition to this, there is significant local opposition to the construction of the supermarket. Residents feel the additional traffic will add to the already congested junction of Portswood Road and St Denys Road, right where the supermarket is set to be constructed.

Sainsbury’s initially mitigated some of these concerns by promising to include a much needed medical centre, and affordable housing in their plans.

However after the local Primary Care trust was axed under NHS reforms, the medical centre was scrapped. Instead Sainsbury’s added a further 10,000 square feet to the size of their store.

They also reduced the number of homes they would create from 140 to 59, citing a decreased demand for housing.

This led local MP Alan Whitehead to call for a redesign of the proposals, claiming they were ignoring the needs of local people.

“The Sainsburys proposals are a very substantial deviation from what local residents and planners agreed a number of years ago,” he stated. “There are clearly still issues relating to traffic flow and the impact on local traders that have yet to be fully addressed.”

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Discussion12 Comments

  1. avatar

    Soton Tab beat you to it on this one

    Pete
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    Tab article didn’t have any mention of the second supermarket, or that Sainsburys went back on their promise to build a medical centre. So it’s a fresh news article really.

  2. avatar

    Greenaways is cheaper than Sainsburies. So meh. I think a lot the Sainsburies customers will be coming “in” from the areas around Portswood. Those (students) in Portswood will still find the best deals (Greenaways/International Foods) or go to Asda. Sainsburies is not cheap by an streatch of the imagination.

    @ Rich. I knew that a Sainsburies might be built back in 2009…

    Dave
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    Agreed completely.

    I don’t know any students that would go solely to Sainsbury’s if they had their pick of the high street, I suffice with International foods and Aldi, neither of which is a “superstore” like this new Sainsbury’s appears to be.

  3. avatar

    If these local traders can’t cope with a bit of competition then maybe their worth doesn’t really extend beyond the novelty of being a “local” trader in the first place. The amount of jobs somewhere like Sainsbury’s creates in comparison is beneficial in the long term.

    MG
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    It’s not equal competition though – larger supermarkets can easily and often purposefully undercut and run at a loss to outcompete local shops to corner the market. Supermarkets may provide more jobs but it’s been consistently shown in economic analyses that very little of the money made in supermarkets stays in the local area in comparison to local shops (by a factor of four or thereabouts). There may be some more jobs but overall the local economy doesn’t do well when supermarkets are overrepresented (unless you think 7 in 1/2 mile is not enough yet?)

    Dhanesh Patel
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    Who cares if money stays in the local area? If we’re to take what you’ve just said at face value, no supermarket anywhere results in money staying in its “local area” so surely it balances itself out?

    MG
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    Unfortunately it doesn’t cancel out, that money ends up (mainly) in shareholders pockets. Excessive numbers of supermarkets redistribute wealth out of small businesses into fewer, richer hands, not only depriving people out of choice of places to shop but also in the long-run running down high streets and eliminating any local character and elements of community. There’s far more reasons to support a local economy over supermarket dominance, have a look at http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=2596 for more.

    Personally would suggest that we shouldn’t just be concerned with just maximising jobs and having cheap places to spend money; choice, community and character play vital roles too and are best supported by thriving local economies (which also makes good economic sense by keeping cash flowing around a limited area for longer thus making it more ‘used’ by people before leaving the system).

    MacIntosh
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    Couldn’t agree more with (MG 2011). Large supermarkets do no benefit the economy as much as they we like to think and as much as they would want us to think. Concentrating more market share in to fewer hands and slowly closing down Portswood high street. These supermarkets only create jobs at the expense of local shops and the supply chains that supplied these local shops. How big is this long term benefit to the economy anyway? It is not like they pay the most decent of wages compared to the ever rising cost of living.
    Remembering also, that supermarkets will take business away from other non-food stores as well. Pharmicies and to some extent clothes shops. How many shops will close?
    There is a value that should be attached to people shopping locally and having a variety of places to shop. Westquay can only accomodate so many retailers, walking to shops and not driving reduces a lot of things congestion and even obesity.
    Furthermore, they have reneged on their additional features bit on their planning application ( planning gain).
    I am afraid Mr Patel that I do not see this new Supermarket as the paradise you so clearly envisage it as.

    MacIntosh
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    *not and take out the ‘they’ whoops- wish I knew how to edit comments?

  4. avatar

    I hope the greengrocers survive, but the answer is to be better than the supermarkets, to do something different.

    I was sad to see the cake shop go, but sadly it didnt generate enough demand for its products. If they were more exciting and of higher quality I would have shopped there more often.

    Again, the butcher’s was OK, but it didnt feel special, so I didnt go there that often.

    There is plenty of scope for innovative shops to do well in Portswood, there are a lot of residents and students in the area with a lot of disposable income. We cannot be suprised if less impressive ones fail.

    I am all for loyal support of local shops, but they have to be good enough to make you want to be loyal.

    I dont tend to go to the greengrocers that often either, so I guess they could go the same way if others feel the same.

    The shops need to invest in themselves to make them attractive places to shop, they need an edge, something different to make people choose to shop there rather than do the easy thing, and pick up their fruit and veg in one go with the main weekly shop. Maybe they could circulate some offers round the local community, offer to deliver vegboxes, stock a really good range of traditional varieties of vegetable, stock only local produce.

    I would have thought a quality shop which stands out and sells more expensive product is more likely to survive in the long run than an ordinary one which has a poorer stock choice than a supermarket and does nothing to differentiate itself

    MG
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    “Maybe they could circulate some offers round the local community, offer to deliver vegboxes, stock a really good range of traditional varieties of vegetable, stock only local produce” – they already do (quite a lot in fact). There is space for local shop owners to make themeselves a good alternative, but faced with price undermining tactics by bigger supermarkets they can only do so much to meet the challenge. The Council needs to limit the spread of extra supermarkets in Pwood to limit this tendency and allow local shops to compete in the way you describe, but without limits then I’m afraid even great shops can’t resist the market being swamped.

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