SHOPKEEPERS fear the growing number of supermarkets in London Road is killing business for independent traders.

A total of 16 grocery stores cram into just over three miles between Sainsbury’s in Southend town centre and a Tesco Express opposite Cottesmore Gardens, Leigh.

Plans for another store on the site of the former Toomey Nissan showroom opposite Chalkwell Park, Westcliff, have also been submitted to Southend Council, prompting traders have questioned whether London Road can support another store.

Nilesh Patel, manager of Sweet News in London Road, Leigh, said: “There are too many.

The problem is,I don’t know how they get planning permission.

“The big boys just come inand throw money around.

“It’s killing the businesses. In today’s climate everyone is struggling.”

Smaller stores such as Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local hit corner shops hardest as they offer the same convenience, but the large chains’ buying power means they can undercut independents.

Mr Patel said: “Sometimes we can’t compete with the supermarket prices.I don’t know how they can afford it.

“I go to my cash and carry and the prices are more expensive than in the supermarket.”

Nearby convenience store Day 1 closed down after a Tesco Express opened a few hundred yards away and Mukesh Patel, 56, who has run London House Supermarket near the Toomey site for 15 years fears he will have to close if the new store gets the green light.

Ariraj Thangarasa, owner of off licence Pints and Litres, opposite Day 1, said: “It’s affecting our business. They do offers periodically.

“Over the road they closed their shop because they couldn’t compete.

“I bought this business four months back. The owner was struggling because of the competition.”

For independent shopkeepers not in competition with smaller supermarkets the stores are a mixed blessing. Sometimes they offer vital parking and can boost passing trade, but some customers simply park up and leave after visiting the supermarket.

Independent corner shops are more likely to attract customers on foot, traders said.

Mike Whittaker, 55, owner of shop Runners Edge, which is a few yards from the Toomey site, said: “For us it would be a good thing, but for the sweet shop down there it wouldn’t help them so much.

“Everyone is more likely to come past our door to go to Sainsbury’s or Tesco.”

Ilan Sisso, manager of Belinda James Florist, in London Road, Leigh, said: “We need more people passing by and supporting shops.”