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Are supermarkets taking over the town?

With big names such as Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose setting their sights on Ipswich many people are wondering if having more supermarkets is a good thing.
Some people are happy as it populates empty retail spaces, creates jobs and ensures money is spent in the town. Others however view supermarkets as a menace as they can provide competition which local businesses cannot compete with, forcing them to close. They also divert attention away from the town centre.
What do you think about supermarkets and do you welcome them or wish they would stop?


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I quite like supermarkets as long as they are the HUGE stores that sell a wide range of products, such as electrical goods, computer games, clothing and homewares. I also like all other big out-of-town shops too. I was very pleased to see the opening of John Lewis, Waitrose, B&M Bargains, Matalan, NEXT Homestore, and soon M&S Simply Food and Sports Direct.  I'd like to see an out-of-town WHSmith, GAME, TK Maxx, Outfit, Wilkinson, Poundland, Maplin, Asda Living, Tesco Homeplus store next!

I hardly ever visit the town centre now for shopping, and here's why:

1) To shop in the town it costs about £1.80+ per hour to park.
2) You still have to pay to park just to visit a shop to browse.
3) Smaller shops have limited stock.
4) Older people with walking difficulties have trouble walking from shop to shop in town centres.
5) Traffic is often grid locked in town centres at weekends and on football day.
6) Collecting a heavy product from a town centre shop is difficult.
7) You are less likely to bag a bargain in a small town centre store.

Retail parks and big supermarkets are just so much better, for me and my family anyway.
John P
Its not are they, its they have! too late to save the town centre now, i think the old shops may aswell be turned into accommodation.
Funny thing about all this is the council would prefer that people didnt get in their cars and drive to shops, but they have forced people to, by allowing all of the stores to be built on the outskirts of ipswich.
As usual, the council says one thing and does another, they have ruined ipswich as a town.
The trouble with town centres is that they were originally planned many years ago when there wasn't the huge range of products available that we have today. With so many products the small town centre shops just can't stock the range, and the result is large big out-of-town stores like Currys and PC World being built. Not only do these large stores stock more products, they offer a more modern enjoyable environment to shop in, they are more accessible for elderly people and young families who can park directly outside, shopping can be done faster as you don't have to park your car in a carpark then walk to the shop, they cost nothing to visit and you can browse the store for as long as you want without worrying about your carpark costs clocking up. Plus you can load heavy items into your car easy.

I'm not against town centres, but times have moved on and they just seem pointless now.
I think we just have to accept that the world has changed and the concept of "popping into town" is a thing of the past. It's a shame that that IBC have hastened the change with their muddled thinking but who knows, when all the shops have gone and the town centre has become full of offices and accomodation we may look back and think how forward looking the council were.

I can't help feeling sorry for the older generation for whom it is less easy to browse the Internet or hop on a bus to John Lewis or B&Q or wherever.

And I can't help feeling sorry for the fabric of the town centre itself, with it's fantastic mix of historic architecture. But again if people aren't going into town and seeing it and appreciating it then there doesn't seem much hope for its future.
Yes, the concept of "popping into town" is a thing of the past.  As for the elderly, I have a lot in my family and know as fact that they hate town centres as they require far too much walking about from shop to shop. Out-of-town shops are a godsend for the elderly, they can get a free bus there (using a bus pass) or a taxi to drop them off directly outside. Many big stores have shopping trollies too that not only help the elderly carry their shopping, they also act as walking aids which make them feel more stable on their feet. B&Q even give the elderly a 10% discount on a Wednesday, shame the other big retailers don't do the same.

I agree town centres have a lot of interesting buildings and architecture, perhaps councils should build on those things and turn town centres into more of a tourist or social area than a shopping area. Fill the place up with more art centres, bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, cinemas, activity centres for kids, you name it! Not forgetting one of those public toilets that rise out of the ground cool are they!!!
James M
With M&S opening a "food store" in the old Glasswells building at Martlesham, how long before they close the town centre M&S store and move everything out there?  After all, Next is there now, and John Lewis just a stop down the A12.
Peter L
I was impressed with the Food Fair in the Butter Market, this Saturday Morning all the hand made products and from Morroco as from other parts of our Country, really innovative and should be encouraged along with the rest of The Market in the Town. Lets hope these businesses are a success and continue.
M&S goes, and then BHS goes, and then Debenhams, and then, and then.....
I just hope they dont close the Ann Summers store, I get all my underwear in there, they always seem to have a hole in for some reason though, odd that.
Reg S
But what about us old crinkles who rely on the buses for transport you try to get to some of these big stores the buses seem to go only one way north to south but not east to west but I am afraid my horse has died. Any body seen it Lol
Social area good idea Leon.
However not all Senior Citizens have an easy walk to the bus stop, it's the hills you know, they get in the way, I suggest escalators up all hills.
Reg S....yes I know buses can be a bit of a pain...I wanted to get a bus from Copdock to the big Asda once....I had to bus to the town...then change buses....the 3 mile journey by car took me an hour and a half by bus..LOL!  The best way to visit out-of-town stores at the moment is by taxi if you dont have a car. Its about time pensioners got free transport by taxi these days.

Patricia O.....again...a taxi is the best option for you as it collects you at your door hill climbing required!
Sentinel R inactive shopping even better! I know you have to pay for it but some of the slots are £3.....just do a big shop and stock up and let someone else do the lifting!!!
Kai F
It worries me that people on this thread arent actually discussing the fact that driving people out of the town centre, where there is a selection of big retailers with local retailers, leaves us with all our money being spent on the same 'made in china' goods that only line the pockets of big companies that then use loopholes to not pay tax. On a related note, Tesco have been trying to take a hold of suffolk recently, opening stores across rural areas, claiming to bring jobs. However, they have actually just closed their distribution centre in this area, meaning they aren't actually benefitting our local economy any more than before. I feel that IBC is pricing small local businesses out of the high street with ongoing rent, when they could be set up online for free instead. Plus i think people need to realise, that if they can afford to buy something from a local supplier, then they should. If money is earned in the area, and then spent in this area, it is only going to strengthen our area economically. 
I would also like to say that I agree that the big stores out of town are convenient, they provide good competition around the park, and rejuvenate the area- something that ipswich is desperate for in some areas! in this respect big business is vital for our economy, and people should be encouraged to go to them. That doesn't mean we should forget about our high street and local businesses tho!
James M
Kai, I think we've come to the conclusion that due to factors outwith our control, and with IBC doing little to help, the town centre is heading towards being mainly a residential / pub / restaurant area.  Every time I go into town now I'm depressed by memories of what it was like just 10 or 15 years ago.
Kai F
I know its distressing to see such a decline. I don't agree however that it is 'out of our control'. To be honest, turning many of the shops into food places, but allowing local businesses to open up if they want would be best, and a bigger deal made out of our market could easily be the way forward. Mary Partas has tried but failed to get people to care about their local high street, and she's right- without intervention it will all go to pot. 
I think people need to be a bit more conscious about what they are buying and their motivation- after all its been proven we cant trust the supermarkets to know what they are selling. There is clear benefits to going down the high street, and if people want to keep it as a commercial area they need realise that it is there to cover a need, and if that need disappears, so does the high street. 
James M
It is out of our control, but I wouldn't be so despondent, the way we shop is changing, and I don't think in future we'll go into town to do proper shopping (i.e. food, clothing, media) which will be all done online or at large cheaper warehouse type shops with plenty of parking.   This seems to be the way it's going and it seems silly to fight it.

Yes we're in the transition phase at the moment, all the entertainment and eating type places haven't filled the empty units in town yet, but that's because the people who own the shop units haven't smelled the coffee yet - and still think they can charge 1980s-style mega-rents for town centre shops to large high-street chains who don't want to be there any more, and IBC think if they don't give us parking then we'll use public transport.  They need to get real too.

As for the market, I think even that will change.  At the moment we have two huge fruit and veg tents (I got into trouble a few weeks ago by describing the market as 'three giant tents' !)  I think fruit and veg is something that is an everyday function that people go to a supermarket for, and except for artisan food, is on the way out  for the town centre.

Where the market may go is more along the year-round craft-arts area, to support the entertainment function of the town centre.
Kai F
I'm not debating about change- that i'm all up for in relation to town centres. Its just the decline in local business that would result if people allow our high streets to continue such a rapid decline. I think there is still a need for a high street and change would be good, im just not as fatalistic about its demise in relation to local business. I think they are the people we should be supporting, and the best way to do that is to go down your local high street, not to big commercial park.
James M
Obviously people in general don't share your view about the need for a high street, or else it wouldn't be declining.  It's very sad for the people who do run shops or stalls in town, but it was very sad for farriers and blacksmiths and horse traders and stables when they stopped using horses, and very sad for coal merchants and ironmongers when we stopped using coal, etc.

Shops and high streets are businesses, not charities which need to be supported by the goodness of people.  If they don't serve the customers needs any more, it only makes sense for them to stop trading, like all other businesses that find themselves without customers.  They're not historic buildings that need their fabric protected like a historical curiosity.

Campaigns to keep the high street alive are just delaying the inevitable, I think, and making the transition period longer than it needs to be.
Absolutely. The free market will prevail as will the simple economics of supply and demand. If shopkeepers in the High Street can conjure up reasons for shoppers to come back then they will. I can't see it happening though with IBC putting obstacles in the way.
Kai F....if local businesses are declining in town centres then why do shop owners choose to stay there until their businesses run into the ground. As more people now prefer to shop at out-of-town stores with free parking and easy access (like I do) then surely town shop owners can move onto retail parks too! The old Glasswells store at Martlesham was converted into several modern units after it closed I think, but as no small stores chose to move into them (due to bad business sense!) M&S are now opening an M&S Simply Food store!
Kai F
Ahh I don't know if we are disagreeing or not here. 
I like the idea about the town centre evolving into something more suitable for peoples shopping habits. I just think perhaps people should consider what it does to their local economy when they shop in big stores- versus if they get the same product, at the same price but in a local store. Local businesses will most likely be living locally, and so can spend their profits locally too, as well as paying corporation tax and rents to the council. Its certainly unfair that they dont seem to be getting a break at the moment. If they were to thrive, its a snowball effect on the area.
 It just saddens me that it could just decline into disrepair, not evolve.
Reg S
Out is ok if you have car but at 80 it's cheaper to get on a bus
James M
Kai, it's economy of scale that make large shops cheaper.  They can buy in bulk, so get a cheaper wholesale price, so can sell cheaper.  It's a shame for the small business, but in hard times people have to count every penny.

There will always be a place for small retailers, but they will have to do something special, add value, give us something you can't get in the larger stores.  Staples like fruit, veg, meat, fish, and even workaday clothing, etc are just commodities, and you can't add value to them, so they will go to the large stores.

Small stores in the brave new Ipswich will need to concentrate on specialities : teas, coffees, cheeses, confectionery, niche or handmade clothing, antiques, crafts, entertainment. etc.  This is where stallholders and small shopholders should be looking to be in 5-10 years time.
Peter L
I agree with James M, an example is the overspill of the Market on a Saturday, into "Giles circus" & The Buttermarket, with unusual Food stalls and foreign cheese Morocan Olives Bread, etc. All very interesting and attractive.

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