Smaller retailers are doomed — or are they?

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6 thoughts on “Smaller retailers are doomed — or are they?

  1. In Australia starting in a few weeks a plastic bag will cost you between 15-25 cents per bag at the shopping centre checkout.

    That would stop Thais from wasting them as they do.

  2. Small retailer will be replaced by small Tesco and the kind. Change of ownership, nothing more. Have you noticed how there is more an more small Tesco "metro" everywhere?

    I doubt Tesco would give a 20% discount. Here they give ONE Tesco point per bag you bring with you! M&S charges for normal size bag (not for the small one). Liddle never gives bag. If Supermarkets do that it is not becuase they care about environment but because they save money in bags!

    The idea that bags kills bird and fish is based on bad science. Look for "Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain, The Times, March 8, 2008 (Matt, can't seems to have link in post)

    "Lord Taverne, the chairman of Sense about Science, said: “The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence. This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive. Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn’t achieve anything.”

  3. It seems to me that the relationship between big retailers like Tesco Lotus and the countless neighborhood shops is a microcosm of how Thais perceive the relationship between foreign and Thai businesses.

    This is fueled by the fact that none of the big supermarkets and retailers (with the exception of Big C/Central) are native companies. Tesco is British, Tops is Dutch, Carrefour is French, the nearly-defunct Jusco is Japanese, 7-Eleven is American-turned-Japanese. Thai chains like Banglamphu or Tang Hua Seng have either failed to expand or closed branches.

    So now it's the little guys, the mom-and-pop shops, who are seen as being endangered by Tesco Lotus and their ilk. I don't get it–Lotus (as the Thais all call it) is the place where all these small shops buy their goods in bulk, and then sell them at a moderate markup. Most people don't want to go to Lotus every time they need a bar of soap, even if it's cheaper, and just as many don't want to shell out the money for bulk products, even if it's cheaper per item. These mom-and-pop shops fill that niche in a way that Lotus doesn't, and Lotus is in part successful because of this constant flow of large-purchase customers stocking their shops from week to week.

    7-Eleven is the real enemy in this regard, and a wildly successful one at that. It has the most chains of any chain store in the world (with McDonald's in second). I think people appreciate the freshness of the goods at Seven (again, as the Thais all call it), where product turnover is high and restocking is done daily. Stuff might sit on the shelf for weeks at the lower traffic shop in your neighbor's driveway. Not to mention the welcome respite of their frigid air conditioning. Plus, with upwards of 5000 branches in Thailand, some 1500 of which are in Bangkok alone, you could have a taxi dump you virtually anywhere in the capital and find a 7-Eleven within a five minute walk. That's certainly not the case with Tesco Lotus or any of the other big retailers.

    And yet still, I don't think that means other small retailers are doomed. It's all just huffing and puffing by xenophobes and panderers. Because as close as 7-Eleven gets to everyone's home, there is still always a mom-and-pop shop closer. It's only a few hundred yards from my house to the mouth of my soi in Bangkok, where there is a 7-Eleven. And I pass no less than five shops which specialize in cold drinks/snacks/basic household goods on the way. So if all you want is a Pepsi, the convenient choice is obvious.

    Of course, that Pepsi will come in a plastic bag. :)

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