Austerity Retail in Britain


This website showcases our research project

The Emergence of Austerity Retail in Britain: Examining Alternatives to the Food Bank’.



In undertaking this project, we were moved by the growing impact of austerity policies on urban food insecurity and poverty . Although there has been a lot of academic attention on food banks which address emergency food provision, very little systematic attention has been paid to other initiatives that are becoming a part of Britain’s foodscape and  are particularly integral to low-income households. Through our action-research and impact work in Coventry, alongside Coventry City Council and other groups, we became aware of the emergence of ‘social supermarkets’ (SSMs) in Britain, but realised we had very little knowledge of how these initiatives operate, their rationale and long term implications.

We were successful in getting a British Academy-Leverhulme Small Research Grant that allowed us to carry out a pilot study between November 2016 and December 2017. We visited and interviewed seven initiatives across Britain.


We are sharing our key findings and insights with the hope that these will be useful to those who wish to

* understand social supermarkets and the food system within which they operate

* start or support such an initiative and reflect on their potential and constraints

Our exploratory research offers a starting point for further research and we also propose issues for further critical debate on the implications and impacts of SSMs in the longer term as an intervention to counter Britain's vulnerability to hunger. We hope this website will provide a platform which will facilitate a collective engagement with practitioners, entrepreneurs, businesses, policy makers, researchers and individual members of the public who are interested in issues critical to food (in)security.

We welcome your responses via comments on this website, or directly to us.

Lopa & Chiara

Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience

Coventry University

Video to be uploaded back soon...

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), Coventry University, Ryton Gardens, Coventry CV8 3LG, United Kingdom

© 2017 with

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Photos used with permission from the initiatives in the study.

Thanks to Ben Cook and Vanshika Saxena for designing the website.