‘Steaks’ are high for future of small shops

Rob and Richard Lancaster, fourth and fifth generation butchers EMN-190302-112110001
Rob and Richard Lancaster, fourth and fifth generation butchers EMN-190302-112110001

Times may be bleak for butchers in the wider area, but in Market Rasen they are keeping the high street alive.

That is the wisdom of Richard Lancaster, a fourth generation butcher in the town’s Queen Street.

While butchers countrywide have been hit by a 9 per cent decline in shops over the last eight years, Lincolnshire’s figure is more like 16 per cent since 2010.

The latest Office for National Statistics data shows there were 105 butchers’ shops in Lincolnshire in 2018, compared with 125 in 2010.

Industry experts are chalking it down to the challenge presented by supermarkets, and their role in driving down prices.

Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said very aggressive tactics from big chains are forcing many small businesses to close for good.

He said: “The steady decline of butchers’ shops in the last 30 years has been a result of the dominance of large retailers in the food sector, driving market prices down.

“For small butchers’ shops, it is near impossible to compete with supermarket deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ and ‘special offers’.”

However, Richard Lancaster, whose son Rob is now part of the family firm - the fifth generation - says he has a loyal customer base who know what they want.

He said: “We have two shops in the town, and they both keep going.

“We offer quality produce at a competitive price.

“It is local too, with beef and lamb from Legsby and pigs from North Owersby, so we are supporting other local businesses too.

“We have been going since 1892 and are now in our fifth generation of butchers, so we hope we will continue into the next generation.”

Richard says the introduction of car park charges has had little effect on his business.

He said: “The two hours free parking is good - people can get what they want in that time.

“If it wasn’t for us, really, the high street would be more or less dead, but it is good to see some of the shops now being taken again.”