Shops must prepare to fight

SIR - So EDDC has found that many Ottery St Mary residents sometimes stock up on bulk goods in a neighbouring superstore.

SIR - So EDDC has found that many Ottery St Mary residents sometimes stock up on bulk goods in a neighbouring superstore. That statistic is as useful as the one that, for example, in the past 12 months 60 per cent of Ottery children have had an ice cream in Sidmouth, or 50 pe cent of Ottery residents have had a drink in a pub in Whimple. As much as these numbers tell us what people do outside Ottery, they tell us nothing about their current retail behaviours IN Ottery.Every so often I do a big shop at Tesco in Honiton. But for every £10 I spend there, at least another £10 is spent in the large variety of shops we are blessed with in this town. And I am definitely not unique in this respect. If there was a larger supermarket in Ottery, more money would 'stay in the town', but what does that mean? Let's be absolutely clear: the balance between money spent in a local 'superstore', versus money spent in local shops would not be anywhere near the 50/50 as described above. Especially if that store was based in the old mill, a significant distance from where all the other shops are.It is up to the town now to prepare for the possible arrival of a major supermarket. Local shops can do a lot to help ensure their own survival. The key to this is realising that there are things they can do which a major supermarket will struggle to replicate: offering outstanding levels of quality and personal service, making the shopping experience a highly pleasant one. I am sure most shops realise this very well, as is evident from the quality and service many already provide. But it would be wrong to be complacent, as even 'good quality and service' may not be good enough when a real threat comes along. They must identify now where they can further improve. By working together they can make the difference. But that requires action now, as passively awaiting a decision on the mill's future most likely means it will be too little too late.Ruud Jansen VenneboerMazzard FarmEast HillOttery St Mary

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