Do we really need a Tesco superstore?

TO have a new Tesco, or not to have a new Tesco – it’s the debate which is gripping Felixstowe.

Traders in the town have real fears that a superstore on the Walton Green site will be the death knell for their businesses, while the partnership behind the project say most of those who shop at the supermarket will be those already travelling out of town.

For the past 20 years we have driven every week – now fortnightly, being empty-nesters – to Tesco at Martlesham (or Sainsbury before the Tesco existed) to do our main shop.

In between trips, we buy our meat at a local butcher, fruit and veg at a town centre grocer plus all the other bits and pieces we need in Hamilton Road.

If the Walton Green Tesco is ever built, our shopping pattern will not change one iota – it will simply mean we drive to Walton instead of Martlesham for our main shop.

Many others will do the same – forsaking trips to the out-of-town Tesco, Sainsbury, and Asda.

Morrisons in Felixstowe is likely to suffer a loss in its share of trade as people have more choice.

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But I can understand the very genuine worries of the small independent traders in Walton High Street and the town centre.

Many who shop locally may be tempted by the larger range of goods. My guess is that many people from the Trimleys and Kirton who would normally venture into the town will stop off at the superstore as an easier option.

In fact, it’s difficult to see how the town centre will not be affected in some way – and the impact in Walton High Street, where there is an excellent selection of community shops, including baker, butcher, chemist and small supermarkets, will be huge, devastating.

The Walton Green Partnership says Felixstowe needs more choice or people will increasingly drive out of town for their shopping. The town council is also worried about the impact a Waitrose on the old Cranes factory site ont he edge of Ipswich will have on Felixstowe.

But do we really need more choice – is there a need for another supermarket?

We already have a Morrisons, Tesco, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland and Marks & Spencer selling food, and if people want to drive to an out-of-town superstore they can.

People only have so much to spend, one household budget.

The arguments have a long way to go as yet – but our traders have to believe it is a battle they can win.

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