A report recently published by the CBRE examines the increasingly dramatic trend towards supermarket expansion
The report, which was compiled using information from local council planning applications around the country, shows that UK supermarkets intend to increase their trading space by almost 50 per cent. The Guardian said Britain’s supermarkets are planning to open enough new stores in the years ahead to cover “500 football pitches”.
More than 80 per cent of this planned growth is to be in out-of-town developments, which could have devastating effect on high-street and independent retailers. According to the report, the three areas most affected by the proposed growth would be Scotland, with plans for 7.4m sq ft of space, the South-East with 5.1m sq ft and the North-West with 4.8m sq ft.
Current economic problems – notably a rise in unemployment and a decline in speculative development – have led to an increase in support from local authorities for such commercial development, especially in economically deprived areas, said the CBRE. Supermarket expansion could be made even easier with the goverment’s proposed reform of planning laws with the aim of streamlining the current system to make development easier to achieve.
Speaking to the Guardian, Andrew Simms, fellow of the New Economics Foundation, warned that there was “too much power in too few hands” and that the situation would only worsen unless stricter regulation was enforced. Yet not all believe this to be the case. Responding to criticism of supermarket expansion, Clive Black, a retail analyst from financial claims group Shore Capital, maintained that growth in the UK was nowhere near as rapid as growth in continental Europe and added that “to say Britain is one big supermarket, or is going to become one, is nonsensical.”