The Women’s Institute (WI) is the latest organisation to express concern over the power of the multiples.

WI members in Cornwall have stopped just short of a total boycott of out-of-town stores, but will be protesting with their purses and avoiding supermarkets whenever possible. The 4,500-strong branch reached its decision at its annual council meeting in Truro. Members believe the superstores are destroying trade at small shops which should be at the heart of local communities.

Cornwall Federation chairman Nan Collier told C-Store: “This is a positive message to our members, whom we are urging and encouraging to support their village shops whenever possible. We firmly believe local shops should be the lifeblood of communities and should be preserved.” The Federation has also asked its members to speak to shopkeepers to find out their concerns before lobbying local councils for support.

It hopes help can be provided with initiatives such as lower business rates and free parking. Collier added: “We are aware it may not be possible for our members to avoid the large supermarkets 100% of the time, but we are confident the message will spread and more people will visit their local stores. We have 178 branches across Cornwall and believe very strongly we can make a difference.”

Rob Creamer runs Cornish Convenience Stores in Heamoor, Penzance. He was pleased to hear of the WI support. He said: “I am very much in favour of what the WI is doing and it is good to see people trying to help. “We need to preserve small village shops. If shops like mine had more trade we could lower our prices, offer a wider range and find it easier to compete.”