Most independent retailers have written off a Competition Commission investigation into the grocery retail market before it has even begun, according to our latest reader panel.
Only 9% of The Grocer's Top 50 independent retailers who took part in our survey said they believed an investigation, proposed by the Office of Fair Trading two weeks ago, would benefit them. "By the time the verdict is announced it will be irrelevant as the market will have changed beyond recognition," added one retailer.
Despite this, the majority indicated they would be willing to be targeted by a Competition Commission probe. "If they are going to do their job properly they need to look at the whole market," said one independent.
However, most said they could not afford to comply with CC demands if it focused on them. Consequently, if they could draw on resources such as the Association of Convenience Stores' new lobbying and legal trust fund, the Community Shops Campaign Trust (The Grocer, February 25, p4), to support them through an investigation, 55% said they would.
More than a third claimed the biggest problem in the market was the major multiples' move into the convenience sector. Equal numbers believed the main issue to be supermarkets' anti-competitive promotions.
Only 18% thought multiples hoarding development sites was the real threat. "The CC should look at Tesco's advertising," said one Top 50 retailer. "The latest TV ad featuring the Tesco Vouchers for Schools scheme is aimed directly at children, asking them to pressurise relatives and neighbours to shop at Tesco."
Rod Addy