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Retai Industy Analysis :U.K.

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Increasing social exclusion A report by think tank Demos notes that "the food retailing system caters better for the time poor, cash rich than the time poor, cash poor", and goes on to say that "when food retailing left the high street the poorest found themselves without adequate local food shops. Now that some local shops have returned, they are set up to cater for a very different segment of society"8. Out of town supermarkets can normally only be reached by car, and the new metro supermarkets in town centres are aimed at commuters and richer single person households, not those on a low income. And are supermarkets really so cheap? The Competition Commission found that supermarkets were putting prices up in areas where there was no strong competition9. Supermarkets have also been in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on numerous occasions for misleading advertisements10, and in October 2001 the Observer revealed that Tesco had raised the price of goods just before a new Ј100 million, heavily publicised price cutting campaign, in order to make the cuts seem more dramatic11. Although general food prices have increased by less than average in the UK, the price of healthy foods has increased by more than average12. Supermarkets are doing little to help matters. Key items such as bread and milk are certainly cheaper in supermarkets, because they are used as 'loss leaders' to entice customers into the store. But not all products are so cheap, a simple comparison of fresh produce shows you can often get it cheaper at a local independent store. Our recent survey of apple pricing exposes the myth that supermarkets are cheap, showing that on average, a kilo of Cox apples cost 43 pence more in a supermarket than on a market stall. Greengrocers were also shown to be cheaper than supermarkets in most cases13. A survey for Sustain in 2000 found that fruit and vegetables were around 30 per cent cheaper at market stalls than



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