This week, I read a very interesting article about how supermarkets are having to re-evaluate their business plans as huge superstores are no longer viable in a world where 1-in-10 consumers do all their shopping online, while others visit superstores less regularly, opting to do smaller, more frequent shops at convenience stores.

As a way of combatting that, Tesco has come up with a range of new ideas to attract more people into their hypermarkets. First off, they’re bringing the newly-acquired Giraffe restaurant chain in store, alongside nail salons, coffee shops, community spaces and gyms. Plans might even stretch to renting retail space to Sports Direct. ASDA – another of the big players – has suggested it would like to bring in more local independents – bakers, butchers etc. – in order to inject more variety into their stores.

However convenient that might seem, it sounds to me very much like the next step in the supermarkets’ attempt to be at the heart of our physical shopping experience, adopting key aspects of the high streets which, in recent years, have struggled to survive in the shadow of their new-age rivals.

But now, thanks to ‘shop local’ campaigns creating a shift in consumers’ shopping habits, high streets across the country are showing signs of recovery. Artisan bakeries, farm shops and independent eateries are popping up in most towns and cities, offering consumers exactly what they want – quality produce and excellent service.

Understandably, the retail giants want in on that. And I’m sure, once again, they’ll offer unbelievable value to their customers, utilising their power to unfairly hammer down the prices paid to producers & suppliers. But on a more serious note, who really wants to visit Tesco for a meal with friends or to grab a coffee on the way to work? After all, the reason fewer people are visiting hyper markets is because they’re bland and inconvenient, hence the rise of convenience stores and local independents.

So, this time around, as the tables have turned and the supermarkets are the ones facing pressure from local independents and online retailers, let’s continue to support our local businesses, local producers and our local economy.

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