Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Asda's "Consulting" Practices

Asda has a long record of using misleading "consultations" in areas where they are planning to build a new store. The supermarket retailer's latest one is in Stirchley where they are bidding to get approval for their 40,000 sq.ft. superstore.

ASDA announced an "overwhelmingly positive" public response in their press release of 20/05/2011. On closer examination however, it is clear that this feedback is based on a very limited number of responses (129 out of a potential of roughly 350, by their own reckoning) and in response to some very questionable questions. "92% of those who commented would appreciate a more local and convenient food shopping option"; wouldn't we all?! Responses like this have shamelessly been used as 'proof' of support for ASDA's plans, despite the fact that there is no link at all to show that shoppers actually want ASDA as their 'local and convenient shopping option'. In fact, a recent poll has been published demonstrating quite the opposite. Furthermore, it was a poll of local residents - those people who would arguably be most affected by the project, and stand to gain or lose the most - not unspecified traders or the MP (just some of the members who attended ASDA's exhibition). We do not know for example, if the traders or people involved and invited to the event have a vested interest in ASDA getting the go ahead.

In any case, the most striking thing about the "positive response" is the questionnaire, to go back to that. "98% of those that commented said the area would benefit from the creation of new jobs." But this not only doesn't specify that people would support ASDA as a jobs-provider necessarily, given the circumstances (and given the poor record they have of treating their staff well and generally being ethical); it also shows how ASDA are using blatantly skewed questions in the first place to get people 'on their side'.

The latest attempt at skewing public opinion seems to be with regards to a survey sent out by the local councillors, as described in this article in the Birmingham Post. Councillor Dawkins said: “It is essential that not only is our survey impartial but it must be seen to be impartial and the last thing we need is an orchestrated effort by Asda to manipulate the result in their favour thus bringing the entire survey into disrepute.”

Let's hope that they aren't successful and that for once the council's planning committee will see sense when it comes to unsustainable and unsuitable supermarket developments.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Well said! I totally agree: who would be against more jobs in the area? That doesn't mean we want Asda to provide those jobs. Anyway, I live in stirchley and was never "consulted" by Asda.