Sixty per cent of independent grocery retailers do not want their children to follow them into the business, threatening the very existence of the sector.
The same amount would not encourage their offspring to become independent retailers in another store, according to exclusive research for The Grocer. With 76% of those questioned relying on family members in-store, the survey raises fundamental questions about the future of independent grocery retailing.
“If you want to live happily or healthily this is not the job to take. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to come into this business. We carry on while we can but I don’t think anyone in today’s generation will do this job,” said CTN owner Sham Arvind, who has been in the business for 27 years. Echoing the views of many interviewed by Headcount Worldwide Field Marketing on behalf of The Grocer, Arvind added that government appeared intent on killing off the sector.
“Government should look after small business but it hasn’t. Instead, it is encouraging the big multiples to open small stores, increasing rates and putting in barriers like red routes.
“I work 20 hours a day, seven days a week and have no holiday to keep this going.”
BS Nandra, who runs an off-licence in south west London, agreed. “I have been in the trade for more than 20 years but do not like it a lot at the moment.
“I am taking nothing like the amount I was 18 years ago and when you take into account deflation it is actually going down,” he said.
“The major drawback is the multiples. I can’t even buy at the cash & carry at the price the multiples are selling beer.”
Another explanation for the negative feeling was the amount of crime independents faced.
Just under half had been a victim of violent crime, with more than a quarter estimating violent crime took place in their store once every three months.
Six in 10 said police response times were not quick enough and 4% said police never turned up. Only a quarter of cases ended in a conviction.
“At the beginning of this year a man came in eating a kebab. I told him to leave as we do not allow food in here and he punched me in the face,” said Nandra in a typical story.
Newsagent owner Mina Patel said she received little support from the police.
“The police never follow up. They always say put anything on insurance but when we do so our claims go up. We don’t bother with the police now because we know they won’t do anything,” she said.
Many of those surveyed were looking to sell their businesses and get out of retailing - with 33% saying they had been approached by another retailer.
Independent off-licences were the most popular target, with 47% being approached.
Headcount visited 500 stores. Half were traditional c-stores, a fifth affiliated independents, 18% CTNs and the rest specialist off-licences or delicatessens.
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