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Self-Service Shops

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade why, in his Written Answer to the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington, dated 31st July, he has no more up-to-date statistics on the number of self-service shops than the figure for 1971; and if he will now provide the information for the hon. Member from alternative sources.

Information on the number of self-service shops was collected only in the years when there was a census of distribution, the last of which related to 1971. When the new system of annual retailing inquiries which have replaced the censuses was established, the collection of information on this now widely used method of trading did not appear to be justified in terms of the form-filling burden it imposed on businesses.An alternative source of information is provided by the Institute of Grocery Distribution, which collects statistics on the number of self-service grocery shops with more than 2,000 sq. ft. selling space and publishes results in their annual review. Their estimates of the number of such shop for 1971 onwards is as follows:—

(NOTE: there is a discontinuity between 1976 and 1977 due to undercounting in 1976 and earlier years.)These figures are not directly comparable with official information. Estimates based on the 1971 census showed that of the recorded 25,897 self-service grocery shops, 5,066 had a selling space of 2,000 sq. ft. or more.