Research submitted to the Competition Commission by the British Brands Group (BBG) identifies four groups of consumers, together amounting to 26.5% of the population, that are not having their needs met by the supermarkets:
people over 70, wealthier shoppers, ethnic groups and single-parent families.
The survey suggests that 4.4 million people in these groups - equivalent to 9.1% of the UK adult population - believe there is not a good choice of different shops in their area. A majority in each consumer group appreciated having a local c-store nearby - 94% in the ethnic group, 92% in the lone parents, 88% in the wealthy group and 78% in the older group.
British Brands Group director John Noble said: "It is clear that supermarkets alone cannot meet all grocery shopping needs, and that it is in the interests of shoppers to have a thriving local convenience and specialist retail sector. With an increasingly diverse UK population but an increasingly homogenous retail offer with declining numbers of specialist and convenience stores, the surprisingly high levels of dissatisfaction are only set to increase."
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: 'This is a crucial piece of research which challenges the view that supermarkets bring nothing but benefits for customers. More than a quarter of the population are not having their needs met by the structure and competition of the grocery market."
The BBG has urged the Commission to look more deeply into any possible gap between what consumers want and the offer provided by existing stores.