Claims by Sainsbury’s that a proposed new store in a Wiltshire town would create 200 jobs have been debunked by a local economist, who believes a new supermarket would force the closure of local shops and drive footfall away from the high street.

Sainsbury’s has submitted an application for a new supermarket in Malmesbury with the promise of 200 new jobs. But local economist Dr Anna Palmer said the grocery multiple’s own figures show that each new store creates on average 12 new jobs. Staff already employed by Sainsbury’s will move to the new store, while new local jobs will be offset by jobs lost from local stores.

She said the biggest impact would be on the local Co-op, which expects a potentially catastrophic sales drop of 23%. Dr Palmer argues that other independent shops would be similarly affected.

“If we apply this level of impact to the other shops that sell like-for-like goods - butchers, bakers, newsagent, florist, card shops - it is easy to see that a reduction in turnover of 23% will push these shops into loss.

“The closure of even one shop and the reduced footfall will impact all the shops in the high street, and all the businesses which serve them, such as the accountants, cafés and solicitors, will also suffer. More local jobs will be lost,” she told C-Store.

Dr Palmer said the site of the store was “definitely out-of-town” and “too far and too dangerous a walk” to the high street, meaning Sainsbury’s shoppers would not be drawn to the high street. Sainsbury’s proposes to create a new bus service that would connect the store with the town centre. But Sainsbury’s own research of Malmesbury residents found that 90% of respondents drive to their current supermarket by car.