Some established shop owners are reporting a 10 per cent drop in business as a direct result of Tesco expanding its collection-point delivery service north six months ago.
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The supermarket giant has introduced web-order collection points in sparsely populated Sutherland at the Altnaharra Hotel, Tongue Hotel, Kinlochbervie Hotel and Sango Sands Oasis campsite in Durness - the most north westerly village on mainland Britain.
Christine MacKenzie, who owns Bervie Stores in Kinlochbervie, said: ”I’ve certainly noticed a downturn – 10 per cent maybe – and we’re throwing away a lot more out-of-date goods, a couple of basketfuls rather than a couple of handfuls of stuff.
“What’s going to happen is that our overheads are not going to come down because we’ve still the same amount of staff. We can’t run it with less people if we’re to cover the opening hours.”
June Cooper at Bettyhill Stores said: “It’s had a big impact because there are quite a few customers that always used to come into the shop that we just don’t see now. There’s nothing much we can do.”
At London Stores at Badcall, Kinlochbervie, Irwin Mackay said: “It’s affected wholesalers and retailers. But there’s not much you can do about it really, you’ve just got to give your customers a good service, 12 months a year.”
Highland Councillor Linda Munro, who represents North west and Central Sutherland, said: “I would think Tesco must be losing money like water through a sieve. The vans do numerous runs throughout north-west Sutherland seven days a week from dawn ‘till dusk.
“It’s an on-demand service and my constituents in parts of the ward fought with Tesco to get the home delivery service to their areas.
“The downside is the home delivery service is kicking our local shops to the kerb and they simply cannot compete. I have real concerns that this will end in the loss of local shops and local fuel supply.
“I cannot fault anyone who shops where their funds go further but we will all pay a high price when we lose local shops and the many unpaid services they deliver.”
A spokesman for Tesco said: “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our rural collection points both from locals and visitors alike. Many people welcome the convenience of having access to a wide range of products close to home, especially at this time of year.”
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