The oligopoly acts of the big supermarkets


Dear Editor,


In the past few years, to cater for the tourists’ needs, it was discovered that a number of small shops were replaced by the big supermarkets. It is not difficult to spot the chain supermarket at the road side. While most of the people think that it is good for the city to become modernized, many social problems are revealed now. Therefore, I am writing this letter to express my views on the issue.


There is no doubt that grocery stores are part of our collective memories. They may not sell as much as the supermarkets and even do not provide a bright shopping environment. But they still have their values. Will you chat with the cashiers when you are paying in supermarkets? Definitely not! The staff is likely to work faster because there are long queues. However, the shopkeepers of the grocery stores are more flexible and have spare time to interact with the customers. Usually, they will chat about some experiences and social issues and some also provide discounts to customers. In the early 90s, grocery stores could be a gathering place for the people living in the same housing estate. Small shops are actually witnessing the city’s changes. If they disappear, we, the citizens will surely suffer the most.


The disappearing of small shops not only affects the individuals, but also affects the overall economies. Last year’s general price level increased around 3.5% and caused widespread discontent. The prices of basic necessities had the most significant increase and it is expected that they will keep on rising in the foreseeable future. Someone says that it is because of a lack of competition so the chain supermarkets can adjust the price freely. I agree with this point of view. Chain supermarkets have enough manpower, labour and capital for the operation. Even if they raise the price of goods, they don’t have to worry about the problem of losing customers. Also, they have enough resources to do promotion through advertisements or online. It does no harm to them if they increase the prices, but it just brings more significant revenues to them. In this situation, the small shops are screened out gradually due to their weaker financial support. Therefore, the chain supermarkets hold most of the market shares and monopolise the market. It builds up an entry barrier for other stores. But I believe that most of the citizens won’t like to see the properties of those tycoons everywhere. We don’t want our community to be mechanized and commercialized. Otherwise, Hong Kong will lose her unique features and culture in the long term.


As a Hong Kong citizen, we need to voice out opinions and protect the small shops. So I would like to come up with a few solutions to address the problem.


First, the government can provide different subsidies such as rental subsidies, electricity subsidies to the sole proprietors. This can relieve their burdens on daily operations thus they can run the business in a better way.


Second, we need to be smart consumers. Let’s support the small shops and make fewer purchases in chain supermarkets. It can get the best of both worlds, help the small shops to survive and force the chain supermarkets to cut prices.


Third, we can create pressure to the chain companies by sending letters to them and invite the mass media to report the current phenomena. This will force the chain supermarkets to bear their social responsibilities and set reasonable prices.


I really hope the public and government can keep an eye on this issue. Don’t make our community standardized. We need a greater variety of shops to support the development and economies of a city. Thank you.



Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong 

Chris Wong