Latest: We reached our Indiegogo target. Thank you all!

- More than half of the independent retailers in Ulverston town centre are likely to be directly threatened by a new superstore.

- Less than a third of Ulverston’s independent retailers are likely to be unaffected.

Keep Ulverston Special carried out a survey on Tuesday 12th July 2011 of the state of independent retailing in our town centre.

The aim of this exercise was to determine the number and proportion of independent retailers within Ulverston who are likely to be under threat from the opening of a new supermarket. We looked to establish:

1. The number of independent retailers operating in the main shopping area of the town, and;

2. The number of these likely to be directly affected by the construction of a new supermarket on the old brewery site.

This survey focuses on independent retailers for two reasons:

  • It will be retailers, over and above other independent local businesses, who are likely to suffer most directly from the competition of a large corporate chain in the town; and
  • It is independent, rather than national or international retailers, who contribute most to what the SLDC Local Plan calls the ‘overall vitality and viability’ of Ulverston. Independent retailers buy more of their goods from local suppliers, keep more money circulating in the local economy, sell goods not available elsewhere and contribute to the unique character of the town.


A survey was conducted of all the shopfronts in the main shopping areas of central Ulverston, namely:

King Street
Queen Street
Market Street
Upper and Lower Brook Streets
New Market Street
Brogden Street
The Covered Market
Theatre Street

Non-retail and non-independent premises were then excluded from the results, namely:

Estate agents, solicitors and accountants
Banks and building societies
Branches of national chains
Charity shops
Pubs, cafes and restaurants

In the covered market, each stall was counted as a separate retail business.

The independent retailers who remained were then divided into three categories, according to their business type:

1. Likely to be directly threatened
In direct competition with the core business of the proposed superstore (eg: butchers, bakers, greengrocers, hardware shops)*

2. Possibly threatened
May be in direct competition if supermarket expands business beyond these parameters, as an increasing number do (eg: books, shoes)

3. Not threatened
Businesses which are highly unlikely to be in direct competition with a new supermarket (eg, hobbies, furniture, specialist)


Total retailers surveyed: 81

Likely to be directly threatened: 45 (56%)
Possibly threatened: 10 (12%)
Not threatened: 26 (32%)

In addition there are 7 independent cafes in the surveyed area, which would be in competition with the cafe proposed for the new supermarket.

Why it matters

The SLDC Local Plan for Ulverston specifically emphasises the importance of the vitality of a diverse town centre here. The precise wording is:

bq.’ … it is important that the overall vitality and viability of the town centre is protected and enhanced. To achieve this, the Local Plan will seek to improve the attractiveness of the town centre whilst at the same time limiting new retail development which would jeopardise the vitality of the existing shopping area. Small scale development and re-development schemes will be allowed in the centre, providing that they are appropriate in scale and character. (emphasis ours)

This survey provides evidence evidence that the proposed Sainsbury’s development violates these aims, and provides a clear, unambiguous threat to the vitality, character, distinctiveness and economic health of Ulverston town centre.