Tesco, the supermarket behemoth, will soon have a store in every UK postcode – that’s over 2,700 stores. But is a “Tescopoly” really such a bad thing? Why do we have such a rocky relationship with Tesco?
Riot police on horseback patrol the streets. An abandoned police car is attacked. Whispers abound of youths carrying petrol bombs. You may be forgiven for thinking this describes the recent riots, but no – this was a warm April evening in Bristol, the site of a protest against a new Tesco Express – the city’s 18th.
Death of the high street
Today plans for a new Tesco in Harrogate have been approved, meaning it’ll lose the accolade of being the only postcode area without a Tesco.
Like others before them, opponents of the store allege Tesco is killing the high street, as shoppers move away from town centres. Increased traffic and a soulless shopping experience are also cited as reasons for curbing Tesco’s growing power.
I’ve never really understood why Tesco is so vilified in the press and why people, running frantically for Waitrose, treat it with such disdain. I’ve always shied away from criticising Tesco – in fact I’m a bit of a closet supporter. If Tesco allegedly takes £1 in every £7 spent on Britain’s high streets, surely it must be offering a service lots of people want?
A local asset
Surely having a local Tesco is an asset? I often hear people, when discussing their new flat or house say “…and there’s a Tesco nearby”. In today’s fast moving world, I don’t have time to visit a host of small shops.
Tesco offers everything I need from my shopping experience; handy store locations, convenient opening hours, well stocked shelves, an excellent delivery service, tempting offers and a nice atmosphere. I’ve always found their staff polite and willing to please – in fact, having occasionally ventured into a Waitrose I’ve not found the experience there any better.
Still, Waitrose did come out top in our latest supermarket satisfaction survey, with Tesco appearing at a sorry second to last place. The main complaints were the quality of produce and the store environment.
But personally, I’ve never had a problem with Tesco’s produce nor its stores, which I find easy to navigate. Of course, I’m not blind to its rather bizarre pricing practices – 99p each or 2 for £2? I think I’ll pass…
Tesco – the Opera?
Plus, without investment from Tesco, it’s arguable that some sites would remain an eyesore in local communities. In Liverpool, where I used to live, Tesco spent several years and considerable expense cleaning a derelict former tar works site to be a new superstore. I visited it a couple of months ago to find the store doing a very brisk trade.
Despite the many parodies and protests, for me, Tesco offers a 21st century shopping experience and can be held up as a British success story. It continually seems to be innovating, every day entering a new market, from mobiles to insurance, gold to car tyres. Its growth has been mesmerising, similar to the likes of Facebook. We’ve had “The Social Network” – so why not “Tesco – The Opera”?
Then again, you might not be as happy as me about Tesco having a store in every postcode…
With a store in every postcode, has Tesco expanded too far?
Yes, Tesco's taking over (69%, 703 Votes)
No, Tesco provides a valuable service (20%, 199 Votes)
Only time will tell... (11%, 117 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,019