Panorama programme to question supermarkets growth
Supporters of independent stores have voiced their concerns that Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons are potentially putting many independent traders out of business. The companies have dismissed the allegations.
Planning authorities gave Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons permission for at least 577 stores in England in the two years to 1st November 2010.
John Walker, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said the number of stores which had opened in the UK in two years was "a concern", especially when almost 12,000 independent shops closed their doors in 2009.
However he added that in some areas supermarkets could give towns a boost, attracting more people to the area that may then also use high street shops.
Responding to the BBC's research, Tesco said in a statement: "The BBC figures are incomplete and misleading.
"Most of our new store applications are not for large supermarkets but for small, local convenience stores, the likes of which millions of customers have relied on to get food in the bad weather.
"Neither do the BBC's figures take into account shops that have closed.
Sainsbury's said, "Sainsbury's current expansion plans are based on sound commercial judgements about what is best for our business and our customers in the next five years.
"We take great care to identify the right opportunities to build new stores and extend existing ones.
"Most of our new stores (75%) are being built in areas where we are currently under-represented like the north-west of England and Scotland, for example.
"We will have created 13,000 new jobs around the country in two years by March 2011."
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