THE voracious supermarket duopoly could wipe out a host of locally owned “mum and dad” businesses within a decade, anxious retailers have warned.
Independent corner stores, butchers, fruit and veg shops, bottle shops, hardware stores and service stations are among the businesses on the endangered list as Coles and Woolworths plunder market share.
The warning comes as Woolworths forges ahead with plans to open a new full-line supermarket and Dan Murphy’s superstore at the Paradise end of Peel St.
The “big two” already control up to 80 per cent of the supermarket industry – one of the highest market concentrations on the planet.
Many existing Tamworth retailers, like online fruit and vegetable store Paradise Fresh, have been forced to innovate or die in a bid to combat the supermarkets’ superior buying power.
Paradise Fresh owner Brendon North said when he started farming in 1998, there were 45 fruit and vegetable stores within 100km of Tamworth.
Now there are less than 10.
“The supermarkets have just outcompeted and outmarketed,” Mr North said.
“People don’t have a lot of time and want a one-stop shop and that’s what they get at the supermarkets.”
Instead of becoming another statistic, Mr North set up his online shop in 2009 and now has four franchises.
“I was fearful of my future and if I hadn’t done it I would have needed to close the family farm,” he said.
Tamworth’s Penrose Prime Meats is another business that has been forced to evolve rapidly to meet the market since establishing in City Plaza 30 years ago.
“I’ve seen at least 22 butcher shops close down since I’ve been here, especially the backstreet shops,” owner Brian Penrose said.
“We’re now going for more value-added products to compete, like crumbed steak and crumbed lamb.
“We can provide a consistent quality for our higher end products than supermarkets can and customers know that.
“Tamworth used to be famous for its butchers but everyone’s so busy now and they want to shop in one place.”
But it was the bottom line, rather than time, that was hitting local small businesses most, according to Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates.
“In a free market, consumers choose on price and supermarkets have much stronger buying power,” Mr Coates said.
“They lock in suppliers at a price other small businesses just can’t compete with.”
n Consumers must shoulder some blame for supermarket rise: