Llandeilo superstore likely to crush local economy

Published in the Carmarthen Journal, August 24th 2011

Letter to the Editor

Sainsbury’s will drain cash from Llandeilo

A major problem with the planned Sainsbury’s superstore at Llandeilo is the enormous amount of money that it will remove from the local economy.

The planning application reveals that Sainsbury’s expects the store to take £26.1 million a year, at 2009 prices. Inflation could make that £28.5 million by the end of 2011.

The adult population of Llandeilo, 2,281 according to county council figures for 2007, is clearly nowhere near enough to justify such a big store. £28.5 million divided by 2,281 people is just on £12,495 each. That’s more than a lot of people earn in a year.

Even if we stretch the catchment area to an unrealistic maximum – to include the area west to Pontargothi, north and east to the boundaries with Ceredigion and Powys, and south towards Ammanford, we count only about 15,000 adults in this rural area of some 550 square miles. Divide 15,000 into £28.5 million, and the result is £1,900. So if every adult in 550 square miles spent £1,900 in the Llandeilo Sainsbury’s, the store would achieve its target takings. Put another way, the store needs about £3,350 from each household in the green and pleasant lands of north and east Carmarthenshire. This amount of anticipated spending from Carmarthenshire households would be reduced if tourists and other visitors did their shopping in the store – but they would not then be spending in other local shops.

If the store meets its target, there will be too little left for other retailers selling food, household goods, fuel and similar daily and weekly necessities. What happens to the butchers, the bakers, the delicatessens, the chemists, the filling stations, and all the other businesses that create the variety and vitality without which towns lose their charm and character?

I am not against Sainsbury’s as such, but believe the scale of the proposed store to be far too large. Instead of complementing the local economy, the superstore could so easily crush it.

Patricia Dodd Racher

[The intended turnover of the store is in the Retail Assessment, Appendix E, statistical tables, table 1.]

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