With the bartering system in Clonakilty, it is just one example of a community taking action. Local indigenous retailers have been destroyed by these multi nationals. Please support local shops and small family owned business.
NOTHING HAS so changed the face of shopping over the past 25 years than the emergence of “big box retail” stores, often located on the edges of cities and towns and always surrounded by vast surface carparks. Wal-Mart in the US is the most notorious example of this all-consuming genre, but it is also evident in Britain by the proliferation of multiples such as Tesco, which now controls more than 30 per cent of the grocery market there and Wal-Mart subsidiary Asda, which accounts for more than 16 per cent, with Sainsburys running a close third. A similar pattern has been repeated here, with three multiples – Tesco, Dunnes and Musgraves (SuperValu and Centra) – hoovering up more than two-thirds of all grocery spending in the State.
Competitiveness between the big players has been intense and unrelenting, despite restrictions imposed on the size of stores by the 2005 Retail Planning Guidelines. However, under the EU-IMF Programme for Financial Support for Ireland, the Government has been required to “conduct a study on the economic impact of eliminating the cap on the size of retail premises with a view to enhancing competition and lowering prices for consumers”. As a result, revised statutory Retail Planning Guidelines have now been adopted, allowing significantly larger stores as well as an increase in the size of smaller ones, up to new maximum floorspace limits. The declared aim is to “ensure that the planning system plays a key role in ensuring competitiveness in the retail sector advancing choice for the consumer while promoting and supporting the vitality and viability of city and town centres”.
But will a more indulgent regime really contribute to urban vitality? All of the evidence, and not only from abroad, suggests the opposite. Look at the main street of Youghal, Co Cork, where once-thriving indigenous retailers have succumbed to cut-throat competition from Tesco and Lidl. Mirroring what happened in Britain and North America, Ireland’s independent retail sector shrunk by half during the boom years, while the multiples grew by more than 60 per cent in the five years between 2001 and 2006. However, it is a fact that local shops return 32 cents of every euro spent to the local economy, because they’re more likely to purchase locally too, while the return from multiples trucking in most of their supplies from abroad amounts to just 16 cents of every euro in the revenue they earn.
The availability of free parking in out-of-town retailing locations has undoubtedly made them more attractive than city or town centres with “pay-and-display” schemes or multi-storey carparks charging exhorbitant rates. Yet we have heard nothing more about a proposal in 2009 that charges should be introduced for parking at out-of-town superstores, in an effort to level the playing field. In barely more than a decade, this may become academic as retail consultant Michael Jary has forecast that at least half of all purchases will be ordered online and delivered directly to customers, reducing the rationale for “big box retail” and its attendant colour-coded carparks.