The Decline of the Corner Shop and Small Firms

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The decline of the Corner Shop and Small Firms
An enduring memory from childhood, is walking down my Grandmother's street (in Morecambe) to the corner shop at the end of the road. Here we would buy the odd convenience item; the shopkeeper was a cheery fellow, and despite the size of the shop they seemed to always sell what we needed. 20 years later, it is no surprise that the small corner shop has been converted into luxury flats. In fact it barely seems credible that a small food shop could have ever existed on such an insignificant road.

The decline of small independent retailers has been well documented. It is something everyone seems to regret, even if we ourselves, rarely go to these small independent retailers. Walking down Mill Road in Cambridge last week, I saw many poster campaigning against another Tesco being built. It is perhaps fashionable to criticise big supermarkets and I can understand why. However, whilst it may be fashionable to criticise Tesco's there seems to be no shortage of shoppers willing to go and buy all their groceries and more.

Reasons for the Decline in Independent Shops

• Higher Prices. Small shops cannot benefit from the same economies of scale of big shops. Their wholesale price is higher, therefore even with a smaller profit margin they may end up with higher prices. It is hardly surprising that consumers go to the cheapest place to buy goods. • Time. The main advantage of the large supermarket is the convenience. Rather than having to go to several shops and queue up at the till 7 times you can buy all your goods in one place and only have to pay once. This can save significant time on your shopping. If the average hourly wage is £15 an hour, it is likely that this advantage is even more important than the relatively small time difference • Internet. I am the worst offender at this. I buy upto 50% of my consumption online. Quite often I will pay a £5 delivery charge just to get groceries delivered, the...
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