Independent retailers are quite rightly angry about all the free publicity received by the multiples whenever they make such statements (oops, sorry, I’ve just added to it), and it’s galling when both firms are given a pat on the back from the government.
The multiples have been playing this game for years, of course. It’s classic corporate PR – only the ‘good’ news ever gets out.
The 17,000 jobs in question will not be “created”, only transferred from other businesses who find sales and footfall damaged by a new supermarket in town.
It would be more honest to talk about net gains and net losses. In the case of Woolworths, that’s 27,000 jobs lost for a start. The high street chain was famous for CDs, DVDs, Easter eggs and pocket-money toys, and a quick walk around Asda or Tesco shows where most of that trade has gone.
It’s inevitable that at a time of economic uncertainty, anything that looks like job creation will be welcomed by the politicians. But the current climate should not be used as an excuse for hiding from the truth.
Perhaps the answer is to play the supermarkets at their own game. I know many of you are still opening new stores, and regularly refurbishing them, too. Let’s see more of this, and at each grand re-opening some positive PR in the local press about the jobs created and services enhanced. That would be a real boost for the national mood.