Some welfare determinants of the impact of large-scale grocery stores : A case study of South Hampshire
Expenditure on food is a major item of the budget of British households.
For low income households it may be the single largest expenditure category.
It follows from this that there are major welfare implications in
the placement of the retail stores from which foodstuffs may be bought.
This issue has been a topic of debate ever since the grocery retail system
began to restructure into larger outlets. Food retailing in Britain is
highly competitive and the major chains have an excellent record of
supplying food on low profit margins per item. This in itself, however,
forces them to seek other ways of reducing overheads. Accordingly, there
are sound economic reasons why grocery retailers must seek low-cost
locations that are accessible to the more mobile sectors of the community.
The advent of the French-style hypermarket drew attention to the possibility
that such a revision of the system of retailing might offer low
prices but at the cost of making stores inaccessible to the less mobile
low income groups who most need those low prices. It is to this vital
issue that this thesis addresses itself.
Empirical analysis is undertaken in South Hampshire in order to compare a
hypermarket with a superstore. The latter type of store offers similar
facilities of large scale grocery shopping but in a more accessible
location. Three separate types of analysis, each within the positivist/
behaviouralist tradition proposed by Johnston, are attempted in order to
draw out the welfare implications of these contrasted store types.
Analyses are undertaken at each of the stores, in the hinterland of the
stores and among higher-income and lower-income residents of the area.
The conclusions are that the superstore is td be favoured on welfare
grounds. At the same time, it is recognised that such stores develop
within the overall framework of control offered by the British Planning
System. Accordingly, the 'Managerialist' theories of Pahl are drawn upon
in order to place the research in a wider context. This makes it possible
to extend the applicability of the findings beyond the immediate research
area. Observations are made on possible planning strategies to maximise
the likelihood that superstores, rather than hypermarkets, will be built
in the future.