Retail Impact

We now have the Retail Assessment by GVA commissioned by Bristol City Council which reveals a bleak affect on the Gloucester Road.

Statements taken from GVA Retail Assessment of  July 2012
In our view existing stores across the whole of the Gloucester Road Town Centre could lose a combined total of 7.7M of retail expenditure which would reduce the turnover of the centre by 12%.  The majority of this impact will fall on the convenience goods sector which would lose up to 19% of its 2017 turnover levels.  At this level of impact we consider that store closure cannot be ruled out with particular concern over stores such as the Co-op store at 331-345 Gloucester Road although other local independent retailers across the centre will not be immune.

Even where convenience stores do not close a reduction in trips to both convenience and comparison goods stores may also mean the loss of any benefit that may occur in relation to linked trips with other facilities.  This may be particularly important for comparison goods shops which whilst likely to experience a smaller direct impact of around 4% may rely on linked trips from convenience goods store sin order to maintain their viability

(p.23 paragraph 4.6)

…we consider that it will have a negative adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the Gloucester Road Town Centre which could be expected to bring about potential loss of retailers and some decline in footfall (p. 24 paragraph 4.9).
Statements taken from GVA Retail Assessment of  July 2012

full document here GVA Retail Assessment Sainsburys Horfield July 2012

Gloucester Road, Bristol – the UK’s most independent high street.

Key planning issues: vitality and viability of centre; customer choice
1. Will a successful application affect the vitality and viability of Gloucester Road Town Centre (GRTC)?
Sainsbury’s retail statement minimises diversion of trade and seeks to reassure. The independent assessor (GVA) disagrees profoundly:
By WYG for Sainsbury’s     By GVA (independent for BCC)

GVA’s estimates are corroborated by earlier ones from 2007.  We should rely more upon the assessment of the independent company than on WYG, hired by Sainsbury’s.

The national picture confirms loss of independent traders when a large supermarket moves in.  Gloucester Rd would suffer a massive dip in revenue.

The vitality and viability of town centres is a key objective for councils and is a material planning issue in this case. The application should be refused.

2. Will Sainsbury’s mitigating factors help the high street?
Sainsbury’s claim that growth due to population and per capita spending increases will ensure GRTC increases trade.  The Retail Trends study (GVA 2011) would contradict this due to:
o    Recession stunting growth: estimated to be only c 1% in 10 yrs (to 2021)
o    Ageing population/increasing longevity likely to diminish per capita expenditure: lower expenditure on goods and food by the ‘grey pound’.
o    Middle-aged consumers’ expenditure on elderly parents (?and young adult children) reduces disposable income
o    Internet shopping estimated to grow by 33% between 2011 – 2014. (potentially disastrous implications for independents, dependent upon real, not virtual ‘footfall’.)
PLUS –  scarcity of new housing space to contain population growth in north central Bristol.

Sainsbury’s also claim that ‘linked trips’ will help GRTC to retain trade.  GVA roundly dismisses this idea, because:
1 Sainsbury’s invisible from the High Street (and vice versa)
2 Time limit on car parking
3 Broad ‘offer’ at the new store (70% food/ 30% non-food goods) – disincentive to check the high street
4 Walking distances involved:
5 103 metres takes you to Bristol Timber, with nothing else of note for a further 300m.
6 Varied shops near Horfield Post Office at c 550m – 750m from Memorial Ground.
7 To reach southernmost Gloucester Rd shops takes another360m.
8 Nature and character of route: the initial 350metres or so is a largely residential area with no special features.
We agree with GVA’s evaluation: linked trips will not provide trade for Gloucester Rd shops.

Finally, Sainsbury’s tentatively says it is ‘considering regularly advertising Gloucester Road businesses for free’ (Case Officer’s report ).  With no clarity or actual commitment from Sainsbury’s,  this is simply meaningless!
We therefore consider that Sainsbury’s is completely unjustified in predicting that mitigating factors will substantially aid Gloucester Rd businesses.

3. What would the impact of this loss of trade be upon consumers and local businesses to the Gloucester Road?
Loss of jobs
1 Sainsbury’s claim to be creating jobs in their new supermarket.
2 However, they fail to discuss the loss of jobs as a direct result of lessening trade in other stores (including supermarkets).
3 Nor do they mention jobs lost in the supply chain, e,g, wholesalers and jobs servicing local businesses – accountants, graphic designers, book-keepers etc.
St Philips wholesale market is already on a knife-edge: loss of trade from independent greengrocers in Bristol could signal its end, with ripples spreading across its whole supply area – the entire southwest and as far as Reading to the east.

1 jobs created in Sainsbury’s would be largely part-time and low–skilled.
2 Their business model resides in reducing costs and the first of these is labour.
3  Increasing numbers of automated, self-service tills is reducing the number of jobs.
4 Posts lost from independent traders, on the other hand, would tend to be more specialised and skilled ones.

This application would, then, cause a net loss of jobs in north Bristol – an entirely unacceptable outcome, especially in the current recession.

Loss of consumer choice
If, as predicted, Gloucester Road loses 19% of its trade to Sainsbury’s it will have a profound effect upon consumer choice.

o    Loss of choice of:
    Shopping at independent retailers providing personal service/ quality goods
    Giving one’s money to local firms, thus benefiting the local economy rather than distant shareholders with no concerns for local area
    Buying locally sourced goods (e.g. meat/ cheese from Somerset, milk from Gloucestershire, local flowers – all found on the Gloucester Rd)
    Walking to shops (especially hard on non-drivers, often the elderly)
    One-off shops that only survive as part of a whole street offer (interdependency)

AND, the domino closures effect will ensure that consumers have less choice of social opportunities:
“ research reveals that community relationships wither because people have fewer conversations when they shop in supermarkets.”(Sims, A:  NEF 2007, on-line)

Other   The likely closure of the Co-op would push many, former Co-op shoppers to use cars to reach Golden Hill or the new Sainsbury’s. It would disadvantage:
1 non-car users
2 the elderly (often non-drivers) and
3 disabled shoppers from streets close to the current Co-op.

This renders rather pointless Sainsbury’s claim to be advantaging such shoppers who live close to the Memorial Ground as it would be counter-balanced by a probable loss elsewhere.
Loss of the Co-op would be a key factor in decimating the trade of smaller independents which complement theCo-op’s offer.
All of the above factors represent a loss of choice for Gloucester Rd shoppers – a key planning issue.

There is an obligation on Bristol City Council (BCC) Planning to take account of “the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made” (NPPF para 27).
BCC’s own independent retail assessor believes that there will be significant loss of trade (19%) on Gloucester Road.  This will inevitably lead to shop closures, unemployment, loss of consumer choice and the devastation of a high street that is known across the country for its charm and variety of independent shops.
It is also the bedrock of a local community of traders and shoppers who support the local economy. It is a place where people walk to shops, buy quality, local and regional products, meet for coffee, take a pride in the environment and actually look out for each other.  Yet, as one of your councillor colleagues points out
“These are very fragile retail streets that nevertheless are essential to the physical and community life of these areas. The Neighbourhood Partnership has put much time and money into schemes for their sustenance for this reason” Councillor A Negus

Councillors of the planning committee, you are tasked with judging this application on its own merits and within the current planning policy framework. It is your duty to reject the application as it will decimate the vitality and vibrancy of the extraordinary resource that is Gloucester Rd with a loss of jobs and community!  It is contrary to planning policy, giving you every reason to  refuse it.

Sainsbury’s Horfield – A Trader’s View

My family’s business has been trading in the Gloucester Road Town Centre for 24 years.

In this time we have seen a lot of changes, but none have been as detrimental to our business as the opening of Tesco’s at Golden Hill.  We, therefore, have first-hand experience of the negative impact which supermarkets have on high streets and local businesses. The GVA independent report states that the Gloucester Road will see a general 12% reduction in sales and a 19% reduction for convenience stores if Sainsbury’s were to go ahead.   This would be enough to close both our stores and make 10 experienced staff members redundant.  We are battling with a recession and we do not have the growth rates necessary to take on such a big impact on our sales.   With M&S and Morrisons showing negative growth rates this Christmas and Tesco’s just managing a 1.8% increase retailers are struggling to match last year’s figures.  The only area seeing growth is internet sales; this is not what the Gloucester Road is about – we are about community, face to face contact and personal service from experienced traders and their staff.

The council is well aware that the vitality and viability of the Gloucester Rd will be negatively impacted by Sainsbury’s.  It is for this reason that Sainsbury’s are offering a mitigation package of £202,500 in activities over a three year period.  However, this is an unacceptable measure, because in that time frame the council estimates that the Gloucester Road would have lost £24 million in trade to Sainsbury’s.  We will also have lost much of our vitality and viability which has taken generations to build.

National Guidance Policy DM6 states that:  Retail development outside of centres will not be permitted if it would be liable to have a harmful impact on the vitality, viability and diversity of existing centres.   Sainsbury’s development will impact all these areas and, therefore, should not be allowed.


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