By Jonathan Isaby
Today's Observer contains a preview of a new paper from ResPublica, Philip Blond's think-tank, entitled Right to Retail: Can Localism Save Britain's Small Retailers?
It is not yet online – it is now – but the Observer states that the report – which it is quick to note was commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores – proposes giving councils the power to impose a tax on out-of-town stores, the proceeds of which "should be used to reduce business rates on small retailers":
"Britain every year is less and less a nation of shopkeepers – assets and ownership are concentrating, finance has become the preserve of the City of London and high streets have converged as though by centralised design. The UK's 8,151 supermarket outlets today account for 97% of total grocery sales, and 76% of groceries are sold by just the four biggest retailers."
Blond himself adds:
"For too long government has viewed big as beautiful in retail competition. That position is unsustainable and we need radical thinking to bring about true competition. The number of traditional grocery stores has been declining over many years. In 1950 there were around 90,000 butchers and greengrocers. By 2000, this figure had plummeted to fewer than 20,000. The number of bakeries has fared only slightly better declining from around 25,000 to 8,000 over the same period."
I'll add a link once the full report is online. Read it here.