Shoppers are behind Mary Portas

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The latest CBRE report Grocery Outlets in the Pipeline is further evidence of the supermarkets’ race to build more out-of-town developments. It states that over 80% of total development in the pipeline will be out of town with supermarkets increasingly responsible for the exodus.

This flies in the face of the Portas Review and government planning policy, which encourage in-town development and acknowledge the damage from badly planned out-of-town development.

Perhaps more importantly, the acceleration of out-of-town grocery development contradicts consumer trends towards more local shopping. ONS data, and the supermarkets’ own trading statements, have shown that growth is taking place in smaller formats and in town.

Strong government planning policy has never been more important, and Portas’ recommendation that all out-of-town applications should be reviewed by the secretary of state and only allowed in exceptional circumstances must be included in the new National Planning Policy Framework. The CBRE data is compelling evidence that without strong government guidance, big retailers will do the opposite of what consumers want.

James Lowman, chief executive, ACS

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