New evidence of the decline of the High Street in Lancashire
The number of butcher’s shops in Lancashire has dropped since 2010, official figures show.
Industry experts put this trend down to the “rising dominance” of big supermarkets and their tactics to push meat prices down.
The latest Office for National Statistics data shows there were 165 butcher’s shops in Lancashire in 2018, compared with 210 in 2010.
This decline is worse than average for England, where the number of butcher’s shops has reduced by nine per cent over the last eight years. The data does not include butchers in supermarkets.
Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said very aggressive tactics from big chains are forcing many small businesses to close for good.
He said: “The steady decline of butcher’s shops in the last 30 years has been a result of the dominance of large retailers in the food sector, driving market prices down. For small butcher’s shops, it is near impossible to compete with supermarket deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ and ‘special offers’”.
Mr Mallon dismissed claims that the decline in butcher’s shops was due to the rise of veganism.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “Increasing employment costs, high rents and competition especially from large online brands, is creating the perfect storm for small firms in the food industry.
“The biggest issue continues to be the outdated business rates system which disproportionately hurts small businesses. Businesses such as butcher’s shops must also contend with the changing lifestyles of their customers with an increasing interest in more sustainable ways of living.”
Experts also pointed to the high average age of a lot of independent butchers, with many having trouble finding someone to inherit the business.
A survey by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s beef and lamb division showed that 75 per cent of butchers had been working for more than 20 years.
In the United Kingdom, there are 6,500 butcher’s shops registered, while in 2010 there were 7,130 - a drop of nine per cent.