Supermarket sweep: A new store gets the go-ahead every day

If it seems as though the major supermarkets are taking over your town, it's hardly surprising. New figures have revealed that the "big four" (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons) are given the go-ahead for a new outlet at the rate of one every working day.

Tesco sign
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Over the past two years, planning has been granted for 577 new stores and Tesco are leading in the approval stakes with 392 new shops.

The news comes as a BBC Panorama programme investigates the unstoppable march of the big name supermarkets.

Tonight's show, Supermarkets: What Price Cheap Food?, aims to reveal the truth behind the rise and rise of "Tesco Towns", whereby local councils are regularly offered incentives such as community facilities and health centres in return for planning approval.

The big name brands say they are simply offering customers what they want - cheap, good quality food.

Champion of small, local producers Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall expressed his concern. The supermarkets, he suggests, are simply promoting food producing on an industrial scale, and only encouraging factory farming.

"You don't need to explain the attraction of cheap food, everybody likes saving money," he said. "But the effect of that simple drive to bring down price - it's massively altering the way we produce food, the scale on which we produce food.

"This is costing us our landscape, this is costing us our food culture, this is changing the quality of the land that we walk on, potentially even the quality of the air we breathe."

The British Retail Consortium immediately went on the defensive saying the expansion amongst British supermarkets has been "modestly consistent".

What do you think? Have you had enough of supermarkets monopolising your town? Leave your comments below...