Introduction: Outline points used for each side of argument
Paragraph 1 - Providing choice: Range of goods & services (seasonal fruit & veg)
Paragraph 2 - Providing choice: Convenience & access
Paragraph 3 - Providing choice: Outsourcing work & price (positive-sum example)
Paragraph 4 - Limiting Choice: Choice of local produce (British Apples)
Paragraph 5 - Limiting Choice: Decline of independent retailer
Paragraph 6 - Limiting Choice: Domination of suppliers - (zero-sum example)
Conclusion : local versus national seen within a zero / positive sum game
Outline the view that big supermarkets both provide and limit choice
I will be looking at several arguments that support the view that big supermarkets provide choice to consumers. Choice through the range of goods and services they offer; through allowing choice over when and how a customer wants to shop and the price they wish to pay to the choice provided to workers in foreign countries when production is moved there. The counter arguments that support the claim that big supermarkets actually limit the choice now available to consumers will also be examined. I will look at the connection with the decline of independent High street retailers and the impact this has on the choice now available to consumers. How low prices for consumers has an impact on the choices made by suppliers and their workers will also be examined. The evidence to support both sides of this argument has been gathered using both the course materials and personal observation of how supermarkets are stocked.
One of the main pieces of evidence to support the view that big supermarkets provide choice is the range of goods and services on offer to consumers. Before the appearance of the big supermarket, high street grocery stores would have a small selection of branded items, sometimes only stocking one type of a particular item. In contrast, today’s supermarkets will often stock multiple ranges of the same item, from well known global brands to the stores own-brand range. A wider and more diverse range of both products and services are available at big supermarkets than was ever delivered by high street stores. Both worldwide and continental foods are now readily available for consumers were before they would have only been accessible through specialist shops. The availability of fruit and vegetables used to be determined by which season it was but supermarkets are now able to supply fresh produce regardless of the season. (Allen, 2009, p. 70) Most of the main supermarkets now also provide a diverse range of financial services such as credit cards, loans and different types of insurance as well as stocking lifestyle items like books, CDs and even clothing and home furnishings in some. (Allen, 2009, p. 57) The big supermarkets provide such a large range of goods and services now that it is possible for people to only visit the supermarket to do all of their shopping if they wish to and not have to use several different individual stores.
This leads to the next argument supporting supermarkets providing choice to consumers, which is the choice of convenience and access This is both the convenience of times when a customer wishes to shop but also the method of how they want to shop. High street stores opening hours have traditionally been limiting, primarily being open nine to five and closed on a Sunday. Supermarkets enable customers to choose the times most convenient for them to shop with many now offering twenty four hour access. When using the high street, consumers have to visit multiple stores to purchase their goods and with the majority of local authorities now charging for car parking, shoppers have to pay to use their local High street if using the car. The supermarkets provide the ability for a one-stop shop and many customers will use their local big supermarket...