Supermarkets are more important to communities than schools, churches, police stations and libraries, according to research commissioned by Somerfield.

The findings in the Local Life survey by The Future Foundation ranked supermarkets in third place behind only doctors, which came top, and parks.

Police stations, recycling centres, libraries, coffee shops, pubs, schools, and gyms followed in terms of importance. Churches were 14th, behind cinemas, salons and organic stores.

"In the age of binge-drinking and celebrity obsession, one would expect pubs and cinemas to win the popularity poll but our minds, bodies and the planet come first," said a spokesman for Somerfield. "And supermarkets are not just a convenient place to shop, they also act as a hub of local life."

Meanwhile, another Somerfield survey marking the launch of its new Simply Value range indicates that Britain's shoppers are saving £336m each week by taking advantage of special offers and choosing own label goods instead of branded alternatives.

Respondents to its customer website indicated that 62% of people look for own label goods during their weekly shop, and six in ten people take advantage of bogofs on a weekly basis.

Thrifty shopping is helping people to save an average of £7.15 each week.

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