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Issue Date:- 11 August 2008

Inflation-Beating Alternative to Supermarkets...

WITH the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) recent announcement that annual inflation figures for fresh food has reached 10.8% in July 2008, the already hard-pressed consumer must now find yet more money to meet their weekly shopping bills.  This does not have to be the case, according to the chief executive of the UK’s biggest operator of markets.

Malcolm Ball, CEO of Town and Country Markets said:- ”Whilst all eyes are on the price wars between the ‘big 4’ supermarkets, there is a strong case for using an often overlooked alternative that has been in place long before the term ‘supermarket’ ever existed.  I’m of course referring to markets that are in nearly every town and city in the UK and have consistently offered a number of benefits to shoppers since they began. 

We have carried out research at a number of sites in the UK and compared those with the prices shown by the leading supermarkets.  Based on a list of goods found in most shopping baskets, the price variation has been, quite frankly, astounding.

In some cases, the shopping basket at a market was 20% cheaper than one of the leading high-street supermarkets, who in this particular case is known for good value.

This saving not only reverses the effects of the last 12 months food inflation, but actually offers a further saving beyond the increases.” Ball concluded.

In the survey, not every site offered the full 20%, but on average, a saving of just over 10% was attained making it well worth visiting.

The benefits of using these markets do not stop at merely saving money.  Using local produce, from retailers based in town centres has a big impact on the lifeblood and vibrancy of the local community. 

Bringing shoppers back into towns results in more investment and spin-off benefits for other local businesses.

Quite often, produce is more fresh and will have travelled much fewer ‘food-miles’ and on the whole, will have much less packaging, something which has become important in the era of fortnightly bin collections.

Ball strongly believes that markets will undoubtedly again become the heart of the shopping community, as a variety of economic, social and environmental factors come to the fore. 

'Northerners Should Move South' Report Deemed Unbelievable, Unworkable and Unfair

A highly influential think tank has concluded that cities in northern England such as Liverpool, Sunderland and Bradford are beyond revival.  It recommends that millions of northerners should move to London and the South East to improve their quality of life as regeneration in the North has failed.

The report by Policy Exchange stated that all of the 3 million new homes planned by the Government should be built in the South, centred on London, Oxford and Cambridge.  The National Housing Federation has responded by calling the recommendations unbelievable, unworkable and unfair.  The Federation state that all regions in England are suffering a housing crisis and each region should receive an equitable share of the new social homes.

Monica Burns, regional manager said:- "The recommendations of the report are quite simply unbelievable, unworkable and unfair.  The report ignores the great progress that has already been made in reinvigorating towns and cities across the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Investment in the North has transformed towns and cities into vibrant places to live and work.  However regeneration must be viewed in the long term and there is still a lot of work to be done.  Further investment is vital throughout the North to enable us to continue the excellent progress made so far. 

The investment should be focussed on housing, transport and economic development to create sustainable communities across the North.  Walking away is simply not a feasible or sensible option.

The Government must continue with the current level of investment on the delivery of social housing throughout the country.  The South East is already one of the most overpopulated areas in Europe and it is simply not viable to build an extra 3 million homes.  The recommendations of the report simply do not make sense.  The authors admit their ideas could be seen as "plain barmy" - at least they got one thing right!"

Email us your views on this topic to our news room to:-

Sub-Editors note:- "Surely the easiest answer would be to improve wages in the north!   Why is there a difference in the wages for North and South?" Eric Lyon-Taylor.

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