Wednesday, September 25, 2013

'Lidl' chain set to open first store on La Gomera. Weather: Hope on the horizon

This former village shop is now part of a restaurant on La Gomera
After yesterday's news that Spanish grocery chain DinoSol are looking to open a large HiperDino supermarket here, today it has emerged that the giant German supermarket chain Lidl who operate more than 10.000 stores right across Europe (incl. Canary Islands) are looking for a suitable site to open their first store on La Gomera and have approached the administration of San Sebastian de La Gomera looking for official assistance. La Gomera with its total population of only about 22.000 is the only island in the Canaries that so far has escaped the expansionism of the  mega chains and even the existing Spar supermarkets here are locally owned while being supplied under the international label. Now the retail environment on La Gomera is about to change drastically to the detriment of local stores.

Lower prices versus struggling retailers 

The establishment of stores by multinational chains here is not necessarily all good news even though the people of La Gomera have  had to pay the highest prices for groceries in the Canarian archipelago over the recent past. There are no facilities for containers to be landed here and nearly all goods first pass through wholesalers and distributors on Tenerife before arriving on La Gomera by ferry, adding costs. Lidl and other multinationals have a policy of uniform prices with cut-price offers and with their multi-billion buying power they will be able to offer prices below that of the much smaller local retailers. This will be good news for consumers as prices will be driven downwards by this new competitor, but in turn it will negatively affect small retailers who are already finding it difficult to survive the present economic climate and may force many out of business. Lidl and similar chains not only offer groceries, but also offer a variety of non-food products at special sale prices from electronics to clothing and every penny spent there will be missing in the tills of specialised local retailers and in the local economy. This will ultimately lead to job losses in a small and fragile local economy like ours. Further, Lidl (et al) usually open stores with ample on-site parking on green field sites away from town centres, drawing people out of the urban centres and thus away from all existing business. The eroding social fabric in many dying European small town centres is ample proof of the negative side effects. Another negative aspect is the multinational chain stores' very poor track record in the treatment of employees,  suppliers, producers, etc., and their  tax payments are generally very low.
If (or rather when) they open here I'll continue to support my more expensive local 'mini-supermarkets' and will only buy some select items and those 'impossible to get on La Gomera products' from the multinationals, I promise. The no-frills small shops provide local produce without unnecessary temptations and thus I'll save petrol, time, and money in the end, plus  getting  local gossip for free.
Some traditional shops still flourish in the Canary Islands

UPDATE (Feb. 2017):
Lidl hasn't opened any store in La Gomera and no more was heard about it in recent times...


WEATHER: Hope on the horizon

Early this morning we had a short shower of light drizzle and far out at sea another shower could be seen a bit later (above). By 9:30am it had cleared up again. Over the next couple of days and over the weekend some scattered showers may be expected, but it will generally stay mostly sunny with temperatures of 24-26 ºC during the day and 19-21 ºC at night. The sea is very warm these days with a temperature above 24 ºC in some spots - warmest in western sea areas. Winds will remain variable light to moderate.

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