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Small traders fear for their business futures
INDEPENDENT traders in Headington say they fear new supermarkets could put them out of business.
Traders in London Road spoke out after it was revealed the Shell garage forecourt shop would become a Little Waitrose.
Shoppers can already chose from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland and Co-operative supermarkets in the area while plans for a Tesco, in London Road, were approved in May.
Some traders say they fear losing customers to larger chain stores.
Owner of the discount shop BBB Stores, Bill Simpson, said: “What it does is keep pinching out bits of my trade.
“It means that my business is not making any money, I’m just getting over the line.
“They target the students so if they can stock small items that catches the student audience.
“I’m cheaper but students don’t always walk down here so it keeps taking a proportion of my trade.
“The worst case scenario is that I close.”
His concerns were echoed by the manager at stationary shop Pen to Paper, Deborah Smart.
She said: “I think it will impact our sales negatively.
“There’s nothing to come to Headington for now.”
And the shop’s assistant manager Stacie Thomas said some customers had returned items after finding them cheaper elsewhere.
Miss Thomas said: “At the minute we are afloat, but I would not want to say what the future holds if things carries on the way it is.
“Personally, I think if you are on a bus you would bypass Headington and go straight to Oxford.
“Unless you wanted a supermarket or a charity shop you wouldn’t come here.”
But other shop workers welcomed the Little Waitrose and said it would not affect their trade.
Joyce Clapp, 66, a volunteer at the fair-trade Windmill Shop, in London Road, said: “There’s a big Waitrose already so I don’t think a small one opening up will make any difference.
"We already have an established, loyal customer base.”
Waitrose has submitted plans to Oxford City Council to put new signage on the Shell garage forecourt shop. The firm is due to start trading there at the end of the year.
A Waitrose spokesman said: “Our Little Waitrose will simply replace the previous Shell forecourt convenience shop that already existed.
“The new branch is a tenth of the size of our core store in Headington.”
A Tesco spokesman said their new store would create 20 jobs and keep trade in Headington.
He said: “We’re really excited about serving the local community.
“We think our store will be popular with customers as it’ll offer great fresh food and good value, in a convenient location.
“From experience we know that our stores give people another reason to shop locally, helping to keep trade in the community.”