Statistics for new store just don’t add up

NO apologies for returning to the topic which is gripping the town – the proposals for a Tesco superstore in Walton.

Splitting the town, too. There seem to be as many for the store as there are against it – and a lot of don’t cares.

But there are lots of strong opinions, too, especially among those who believe a 30,000sq ft supermarket will have a devastating effect on the town centre, and the shops in Walton High Street, which cater for most of the needs of the community of Walton.

Personally, I happily admit I am a Tesco shopper – and, if the new store is built, I will be a customer, and won’t have to drive to Martlesham every fortnight. My shopping habits will not change a bit – the goods we buy locally, we will still buy locally, spending just as much as we currently do in Felixstowe town centre.

That will not, of course, be the case for some people.

For those, the town centre may be a journey too far in future. Passing Tesco may prove difficult – too tempting and far too easy to pop in to the new store and shop rather than motor on to Hamilton Road and search for a parking place and walk to a range of shops.

Everyone leads busy lives – and is looking for cheaper food. It’s easy to see why there are genuine fears that footfall will decline in the town centre, and traders will face an uncertain future.

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According to campaigners, the Tesco will provide twice as much food retail floorspace as Suffolk Coastal’s brand new policy says Felixstowe needs up to 2025, and on those grounds alone is not needed – and the council should refuse it outright.

The council must analyse the effect on the vitality of the town centre and surely no one can deny there will be a serious impact.

Even if everyone who currently drives out of town to shop went to Walton Green Tesco instead, it will not generate anywhere near enough turnover for the store.

Developers would argue they are not only fulfilling a need to help retain spending in Felixstowe, but also providing more choice – though people who love Asda and Sainsbury, and the soon-to-be-built Waitrose, will not swap those for Tesco.

The statistics and need for this new store just don’t add up.