Supermarket Job Claims

You may have seen David Cameron popping up in an ASDA this week hailing their announcement of creating 12,000 new jobs. This set piece was slightly overshadowed by the revelation that the Prime Minister shops in Waitrose – surely the least surprising news of the week.

As someone who has campaigned for small shops for the best part of two decades, I’ve become highly cynical about supermarket job announcements, and there’s a part of me that wants cry foul every time I hear a new claim by the Big Four. We conducted research a few years ago that showed that despite a 2.75m sq ft growth in floor space, the number of people employed by Tesco and Sainsburys had actually declined over the year.

Typically, headline job claims fail to take account of the fact that many of the jobs are seasonal, so one job filled at Easter, Summer holidays, Christmas, and at all points in between by a total of four people is counted as four jobs, not one. They also often fail to mention that jobs are part-time and can turnover quickly, none of which is a bad thing of course and the convenience sector is a heartland for flexible, part-time employment, but it does give some context to the figures.

The most important thing about supermarket job claims is that they never take account of the jobs lost in surrounding stores. This is harder to track over time, and proving a direct cause and effect is difficult when the impact of a new supermarket on the local area unfolds over a period of time.

ACs will continue to point out these problems with job claims at a national level, but this all really matters when it comes to planning applications for new stores. Campaigners against new out of town developments need to challenge job claims and make sure that planning committees are looking at the facts, not the spin.

Detailed analysis of the impact of new developments on existing centres is a central part of planning policy – even though our report last year shows weaknesses in how planning law is applied. Make sure that your local planners, councilors and media don’t get blinded by the big figure job claims, and that the true impact of new supermarkets on employment is understood.

This entry was posted by Victoria on Thu, 10/04/2014 - 14:18