Simon Jenkins in the Guardian makes some good points about the current state of the big supermarkets and what might happen to them in the future if current trends continue.
The age of the big supermarket, like that of the battleship, may limp on, but the glory days are over. One in five supermarkets needs to close, Goldman Sachs said this week, especially the gigantic ones.
Just last year Tesco’s former boss, Sir Terry Leahy, could go on Desert Island Discs and jeer at high streets as “medieval” and hail his superstores as “progress”. How times change. The City pages now call his company “a 1990s relic” and its stock “one notch above junk”. Its patsy accountants, PwC contrived to ignore a quarter-billion-pound hole in its accounts – imagine the outcry if a social worker were guilty of such professional oversight. The company now admits that “over-spacing” is its biggest handicap.
Two years ago Tesco’s rival, Sainsbury’s, dropped plans for 15 inner-city stores in favour of out-of-town ones, steered in that direction by the local government secretary, Eric Pickles. Now it is spending millions trying to write off an excess of 40 stores nationwide. Asda admits a “shockwave”, with its first fall in sales in eight years. They all blame “buyer promiscuity” – code for a free market we don’t like.
So what happens to all those sprawling out of town supermarkets that blight Cornwall?