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Call for Moratorium on Big Box Retail Stores

Call for Moratorium on Relentless Spread of Big Box Retail Stores

Government must place a moratorium on big box retail developments to prevent more damage to small businesses and communities, environmental planning group Envision New Zealand today.

The group was set up last year to help communities understand the impact of mega stores and big box retail phenomena.

Envision NZ spokesman Warren Snow has written to Prime Minister Helen Clark and key Cabinet members calling for a moratorium and a multi-party seminar on the issue.

Mr Snow said New Zealand needed to halt construction of Big Box and Mega retail stores and centres until their effects on town centres and communities in New Zealand had been measured.

He visited 10 New Zealand towns and cities late last year and met with groups fighting the construction of mega retail developments in their communities.

``I feel there is huge concern at the impact on local economies and community values through these stores and centres killing town centres and small retailers and businesses.

``Other countries like Norway, Thailand and the UK are starting to impose limits on big box retail. It’s a worldwide issue that’s hot right now. Poland has also acted by giving power to local authorities to govern the growth of Big Box chain stores.

``I see it as a conservation issue -- no less than saving whales and the rainforest or the kiwi. Big business has always had to have limits imposed on it in order for us to conserve the world’s resources and species.’’

Mr Snow said the same applied to town centres many of which are dying and big business was not prepared to impose its own limits.

``I’m not against chain stores in every town. The old chains like McKenzies and even Woolworths were able to coexist but the scale of these new mega stores and centres is beyond what communities can stand.

``Their power and control over the whole supply chain, is squeezing ``the little guy right – out’’. One store can take in around $1 billion over 20 years. There is no community that can stand that sort of impact.

``It’s no longer fair competition and it is killing good businesses, jobs and even local leadership all over New Zealand. The real cost of ever cheaper goods is becoming too high.

``We need to have a five year moratorium as they have in Sweden while we ascertain what size stores are sustainable for various size communities. Then we can set appropriate limits.’’ Mr Snow said.

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