Monday, September 26, 2011

Protest against new Sainsburys

You can't really have missed the banners around New Cross in the past few months proclaiming 'No More Chain Stores' and protesting against plans for a new Sainsburys in the area.

Of course there is already a big Sainsburys store next to New Cross Gate station. The issue is with plans for a second, 'mini' Sainsburys at 33 Lewisham Way (pictured below, across the road from Goldsmiths).

Now the New Cross Federation, made up of local small traders, has called a demonstration against the plans. Here's what they have to say:

'In response to plans for another Sainsbury’s in SE14, The New Cross Federation will be holding a peaceful protest Thursday 20th October, outside Sainsbury’s Head Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT 12-2pm. If you are worried about the destruction of small shops and the takeover of our neighbourhoods by corporations, and if you wish to help protect our community and people’s livelihoods, then please come and join us, and please sign the petition here.

At a meeting in August with New Cross Federation members (local traders and councillors) Sainsbury’s management stated that the reason for opening a small store (a ‘Local’) in addition to the large store already operating in SE14, is to pick up the ‘top-up’ trade – i.e. shoppers who do their weekly shop at the big store, but who may need to top-up with a few items mid-week. This is exactly the trade that our independent shops rely upon for their living. We do not want a chain to come in and replace them. People who have been in the area long enough remember butchers, bakers, florists and greengrocers closing down within a year of the large Sainsbury’s store opening.

This kind of chainstore massacre is happening all over the country, at the hands not only of Sainsbury’s, but of Tesco, Starbucks and many others. They say that they create jobs, but it is well documented that they destroy more jobs than they create, suck money out of communities and into the pockets of distant, wealthy shareholders and directors, and are often happy to replace human beings with automated checkouts.

If you prefer to see a thriving, mixed, independent local economy, instead of a few chainstores and a lot of boarded up shopfronts then please join us on October 20th if you can, and please sign the petition. For more information, please e mail'.

A couple of years ago, Sainsburys were consulting on plans to move their current store to the front of the car park so that it would be more convenient for pedestrians accessing it from New Cross Road. I assume this is on hold as a result of decline of property development market.

Personally I don't assume that big stores are always worse than small ones - some small local shops can be terrible employers too, with worse wages than supermarkets, no union and high prices. In Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, I am glad that there is a Co-op store so that you don't have to buy all your food from relatively expensive delis (which are fine for treats but not for everyday staples).

But you have to look at the specifics of each situation. A new Sainsburys isn't going to add anything when there's already a big one down the road, and a Tesco's metro up the road. I wouldn't lose any sleep about it competing with Costcutters, but it could have a negative impact on local cafes as well as shops. Small supermarkets tend to sell a higher proportion of drinks, snacks and sandwiches than big stores, and by pitching up opposite the college Sainsburys clearly has grazing students and staff in mind. There are a number of cafes nearby who cater largely for the same people and while they get by, nobody is getting rich selling food and drink to students round here. So it is quite possible that a new Sainsburys shifting lots of lunches could make the difference between survival and closure for some places.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree Transpontine - in some cases its not all bad news, but in this one it will hurt local shops in a big way. New Cross is fragile enough, I would imagine, and I fear it would lead to lots of boarded up shops.

On a similar note worrying news of a Tesco xpress set to open in Brockley:

This would be directly opposite from the Budgens, which does EXACTLY what Tesco does, and is run by a family business that has been in that spot for years and years. This too musn't be allowed to go ahead. And if it does, something fishy is going on in the council offices...