The data gathered from hundreds of local authorities all over the U.K. indicates that councils are approving the applications of supermarket planners at a rate of about one a day. In the two years from November 2008 to November 2010, permission has been granted for 33 new Asda locations, 42 new Morrisons outlets, 111 new Sainsbury’s stores, and a whopping 392 new Tesco sites.
The figures were compiled by the BBC and Panorama after their researchers asked local councils how many permits had been approved for the ‘big four’ retail establishments in their jurisdictions. Not all of them responded, and of those who did, only applications that would permit a new supermarket to be opened were included in the data. Additional research showed that London had 110 applications approved, far more than any other city. Fifteen of the ‘big four’ were approved in Birmingham, twelve in Leicester.
Opinion differs as to whether this surge of permissions for large supermarkets is a good thing. Those against the idea, and there are many, say these mammoth stores will kill off the small businesses and homogenize all the diversity that makes different locales so interesting. However, the Director General of the British Retail Consortium, Stephen Robertson, noted that the growth of large retail chains over the past years is directly related to consumers’ preference. He said the changes are a sign of healthy business growth, and added that these stores create jobs, offer more affordable prices and are often major contributors to the local community.