Big supermarkets in cahoots with union to drive small business out 124



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The power wielded by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, along with their relationship with Australia’s largest trade union, has been criticised by a business leader in a speech to be given today at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Peter Strong, the Council of Small Business Australia chief executive, has some sharp words about Coles, Woolies, and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA). He thinks that the deregulation of opening hours has seen Coles and Woolworths expand their number of stores, and staff, and the opportunity for the SDA to increase its membership.

“Simply put, our economic health is decided by these three organisations. If penalty rates stay high or increase with pay rises then many small businesses will close, at least on Sundays and public holidays,” he says.

“As a result, the duopoly will increase their share of the market place through attrition created by the actions of the SDA”.

Mr Strong fears a scenario in which the small stores of strip shopping areas will disappear, and that there will be almost no choice but to shop at Coles and Woolworths. Particularly so if the two supermarket giants are allowed to add to their stores services such as lottery ticket sales, and in-store gymnasiums and chemists.

He also takes aim at the owners of large shopping malls:

“At their whim, they will organise streets to be made one-way, for carparks outside their malls to be moved under or next to their malls, and for bus stops to be moved closer to their entrances. Do they contribute to our society beyond that? No”.

Are you strictly a Coles or Woolies customer, or do you like to give small businesses a go as much as you can? Do you want to see small businesses stay on the Australian store scene? Or does the range, convenience and price of the big supermarkets win you as a customer?

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  1. We have very few small businesses around, those that we have are much dearer than the already high prices we already have to pay here in Perth.

  2. I have a IGA near my home and try to shop there . It is convenient for me to have it up the road and if I want it to stay I need to use it .I do shop at the big ones as well .

    1 REPLY
    • Even IGA has got so big in smaller towns and got too greedy and opening longer hours and putting corner stores and small businesses out of town.

  3. I am afraid that has been happening since Woolies and Coles began in Australia, small suburban shopping have almost vanished and the corner shop is long gone

  4. One of the things you haven’t mentioned is that shopping centre developers often give free or cheap space to the big name stores to keep them in their centres. All the small stores pay high rents still. It is reasoned that the big stores are the attraction and the small stores trade off their proximity to them. This has occurred when a shopping centre is struggling to keep customers when new centres open nearby.

  5. The big 2 already get 70 per cents of all retail in Australia, from liquor to hardware, that is frightening because it also means that suppliers have NO choice but deal with them, that any one looking for a job in retail has to deal with them, they control price at the farm as well as wages. The same goes to banks and insurance companies, we used to have probably more than 10 banks in Australia 20 years ago, they all have been swallowed up by the big 4. We are loosing our country to the corporate world, and while our small businesses are being over regulated by governments, those big guys can make their own rules.

  6. The small store is here to stay in rural towns and whilst the big boys have come to play in many of the larger rural places there will always be a place for the small bloke despite the competition.

  7. So true,How boring it is going into malls all the same shops.Very few small shops can survive this (progress)!!!!!

  8. Small stores have better service , as I worked in one for many years , got to know all your customers , especially the older ones , and could give a bit of time to them .our policy was if someone was looking for something we had to show the customer where it was .

    1 REPLY
    • Helene you are so so right…i love the personal service nothing beats get that at Ritchies iga for instance I go to Golf Links Road store in Frankston.. the people all of them are lovely nothing is to much trouble..I am short and can’t reach some things from time to time there is always someone there to oblige with a smile…they always ask at the checkout how your day is…and chat if its not busy…they have market day once a month i love the meat specials. and a couple of times i have had been overcharged eg the girl coded the ham price for the bacon price just human error but i rang and they said to bring docket up next time i was in and would refund..i thought they meant the difference but they refunded the whole lot and gave me a box of roses chocolate s… they new i was a regular customer from my iga card..we all know stores keep data on your shopping. then theres my local neighbourhood chemist in heatherhill road…peta and her crew..i dont go anywhere else ..they are friendly obliging and caring and know all their regulars by first name. they recently changed a supplier for one of my tablets and i had a reaction to something either the filler or the coating on them…they told me to bring back what was left and gave me a new script with my old brand…..there amazing

  9. I shop at Aldi and iga only the things I cannot get I will go to Safeway or Coles

    4 REPLY
    • same here…and when i do i scan my everday rewards card and flybuys and then i am bombarded by offers like spend 30 .oo at yoru next shop and get 500 points etc

    • the problem is if we keep going for ‘cheep cheep cheep’ there will be no brand names left ad quality…..just look at coles langwarrin i have noticed the biscuits are mainly coles brand..i cant even get yummy teddies anymore

    • Aldi products are just as good if not better I got the Aldi Tim tams and they are so nice only $1.50 so it does pay to look at other stores beside Cole’s & Woolworths

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