Running a small store has always been about making sure the numbers are correct, but the future direction of the entire industry is going to depend on certain groups of individuals getting their maths right.
Report after report has been issued about the importance of independently owned local stores, and the government has generally accepted them all as useful and worthwhile without actually doing anything in response.In the past week the Department of Trade & Industry has been criticised for looking at the Sunday trading issue in purely cost-benefit terms instead of taking into account the social and family benefits to be had by keeping the weekend a bit more special.
Similarly, although campaigners for small stores have had a few successes in diverting the attention of MPs towards the march of the multiples, there has still not been much in the way of action because the OFT and others have taken the view that they need proper numbers for analysis, not just touchy-feely stuff about communities in peril.
While getting the grocery sector referred to the Competition Commission is a major achievement, the worry is that market investigators will still insist on the kind of dry economic proof that the OFT has hidden behind for years instead of acting.
So it is to be hoped that somewhere in
the huge pile of paper that is soon to descend on the Competition Commission is something that says locally owned independent community retailing has a value, and that it adds up to something worth preserving.