News by press release, chemists losing their battle with the Woolworths PR juggernaut

Chemists might as well give up. Now that Ray Martin’s A Current Affair (9 Network, 15/6) is on the side of Woolworths and big business it won’t be long before the government steps in for the benefit of consumers. ACA is not alone is swallowing the Woolworths PR spin on this. While the story has been relatively quiet over recent weeks – since they launched their push in April – it has picked up pace this week. There have been stories in The Australian and the smiling Roger Corbett (Woolworths CEO) beaming at us on ACA last night.

If you believe Woolworths this is about price, consumer convenience and competition. Rubbish. This is about the money they can make off the traffic. By handling prescriptions in their stores Woolworths know consumers will spend while they wait. It’s those sales they really want. They would not chase this if there was not a buck in it.

How the journalists at ACA can allow themselves to be deluded by the big business PR push without doing serious investigation. The examples used in the ACA price comparison were useless. They did not account for the added services from the pharmacist nor was it a scientific price comparison. They chose a limited number of items, did not tell us where they came from and moved through at a great rate so they could maintain focus on the core of the story – that consumers would be better off is independent small businesses lost to the giants like Woolworths.

Supermarkets are big enough. We need to take a leaf out of the UK parliament book and research this clonisation of retail Australia.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe health Minister Tony Abbott will show that government is able to deliver a something for small and independent businesses. If they do I suspect it will because of a preference for negotiating with representatives of small business over the likes of Corbett and his colleagues who are used to getting more of their own way.

Chemists, newsagents, butchers, greengrocers, dry cleaners, florists and others ought to get together and fight this and similar battles.

I care because my business has been built over 24 years serving independent small business retailers. They are our only customers.

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