The figure – more than 8-in-10 of respondents – was revealed when Asda presented its case for its first store in the borough at a council meeting last week, ahead of a formal planning application hearing later in the year.
Croydon residents’ desperation to secure one of the 132 full-time or 68 part-time jobs at the store underlines the complacency in the repeated boasts by Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP for Croydon Central, about falling levels of unemployment.
Asda stores often employ 18- to 25-year-olds and those over-60, groups of people who often face long-term unemployment.
Asda executives at the council meeting said that they expect that 160 of the jobs will be filled by people living within five miles of their proposed store near Thornton Heath Ponds.
They plan for the store to be open 96 hours a week.
Asda has had the title of Britain’s cheapest supermarket, judged by The Grocer magazine, for 15 years running. The magazine judged that shoppers at Asda saved on average £3.09 a week as against a weekly shop at Tesco’s, £5.34 at Sainsbury’s and £10 at Waitrose.
The proposed store would replace the derelict MFI and Dreams store in Thornton Road, near to Peall Road, currently cursed by fly-tipping.
The store will only by two-fifths the size of their Beddington Lane store. Asda executives were willing to talk in public about their keen pricing policy.
Sadly, Jason Perry, the chairman of the meeting, was rather pompous in thinking mistakenly that he was being the businessmen’s friend when he prevented the Asda execs answering Sherwan Chowdhury, the Norbury councillor, who asked about whether prices would be higher in the smaller store.
Asda reacted positively to West Thornton councillor Humayun Kabir urging the close working with south Asian convenience store owners in the vicinity whose businesses would clearly be impacted by the arrival of a large and price-savvy competitor.
Whatever the reservations about the market power of the Wal-Mart-owned Asda, this development would be of much greater importance to Croydon’s retail economy if given the go-ahead than the minimal government “investment” through the Portas Project that is being frittered away on murals, expensive consultants and the interests of a limited number of businesses.
The shame is that the planning process is so slow that Asda believe we’ll have to wait till our Christmas shop next year – 2014 – for Croydon to have the country’s cheapest supermarket chain open in town.
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