Over the past few decades, hundreds of supermarkets have been built in towns and cities across the UK. They have become such a powerful force, that the four largest supermarkets, (Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Morrisons, ) take nearly three out of every four pounds spent on groceries, in the UK. (Bevan 2006). They have a combined market share of over 73.6% of the UK grocery market. (www.wikipedia.org “List of supermarket chains in the UK”).
What is a ‘Zero-Sum’ Game?
American born , Sociologist, Dennis Wrong (1997) stated that the power held by the supermarkets is a ‘zero-sum’ game. This means that they are in a situation whereby one party’s loss is another party’s gain and vice versa. If you subtract the total losses from the total gains, the sum would equal zero. (Taylor et al., 2012, p.70)
For example, when a new supermarket opens up in a town, which is currently predominantly supplied by local stores, the supermarket will most probably take a significant proportion of their customers from them, due to their lower prices and promotions. This means that the supermarkets gain, by increasing sales and the local shops will lose out. Therefore, for example, total gains of the supermarket would be +1, as they have gained new custom, and the loss of the local shop is -1 as they have lost out. +1 subtract -1 equals 0.
“In economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which a participant's gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum_game)