3 Feb 2013

Sir Terry Leahy: small shops closing is ‘part of progress’

Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy describes the rise of supermarkets and the closure of small shops as “part of progress”, but what do you think?

Tesco and boarded up shop (pictures: Reuters)

Channel 4 News has asked its social media followers to respond to Sir Terry’s views, which he made in a Desert Island Discs interview with Kirsty Young.

Asked if seeing boarded-up shops made him sad, Sir Terry said: “It does but it is part of progress. People are not made to shop in supermarkets, they choose to shop there.

“High streets – some of them are medieval and the way that we live our lives now is very different, so what you have to do is make sure the benefits do outweigh the costs, and I think that they do.”

Channel 4 News asked people on Twitter what they thought of the comments – and several of the responses we cannot publish on the grounds of decency. Overall the response to Mr Leahy’s comments were negative:

However, not everyone disagreed. Users on Facebook argued that Sir Terry is “quite right”.

“High streets don’t need to die, however, they need to evolve into some where that draws people by the interest they provide through non-mass produced stuff,” said Dugaldtheelder Ferguson.

Chris Jones argued: “We can’t keep ruing the death of the high street while not shopping there. I don’t want to see rows of boarded up shops – nobody does – but beyond nostalgia, what is the real reason why we want to save them? What crucial purpose do they serve?”

Unpackaged, are an organic refill shop and cafe, tweeted that though people choose, “it is not a level playing field for all shops”.

Since June 2008 the vacancy rate of UK shops has risen from 2.8 per cent to 14.2 per cent at the end of December 2012.

Some on social media argued that the problem for the high street is not the supermarkets, but the rise of online shopping.

Teresa Louise Wright wrote on Facebook: Teresa Louise Wright “Death of the high street is down to online shopping…. look at pubs, soon as supermarkets made their beer cheaper the pubs suffered, now online shopping means small shops suffer first but eventually, supermarkets will suffer too!”

What do you think? let Channel 4 News on Twitter or Facebook, or at our Google+ page.