/ Food & Drink, Shopping

A Tesco in every postcode – what’s the problem?

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

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Sally says:
9 September 2011

In Dartford, Tesco has been waging war against the population for years, as it is determined to open a store in the centre of town, despite a poll showing most of the people being against it. Tens of small businesses have been closed as the council compulsorily purchased them to sell more land to Tesco’s agents and the town now looks like a wasteland, so that people are keen to see anything done to improve the situation. There seems to be limitless funds for Tesco to fight on while councils do not have the funds (or will) to resist, but where is the loyalty to the business owning residents who have been paying the council tax for years?

Andimac says:
9 September 2011

Tesco recently lost its planning proposal to replace its existing local supermarket in my area with a huge superstore, but only after after concerted and sustained local oppoosition by the council, local traders and residents. Tesco’s response has been to announce that it will return with different plans but for a similar sized development, in spite of entrenched local opposition, as they wish to give us (as they put it) the shopping experience our area “deserves.” There is already a huge Asda store only 2 miles away. Tesco are totally uninterested in what their customers want – they are only interested in trying to obtain a monopoly. I admit I frequently shop there (it’s convenient), but I find that the choice of produce and certainly the quality is inferior compared to what it used to be. I believe this has nothing to do with the size of the store, which is large and has already been extended once, but has everything to do with Tesco’s buying and retail strategy. If Tesco do return with plans for a giant store, I for one will boycott them, as I believe will many local residents. Tesco is too big, too powerful and, basically, too greedy.

As a regular user of Tesco I am torn these days about it’s size and power in any community it builds in. Sure it clears a place up it wants to build a store in but also it definitely puts small businesses out of business. It is about time the government or some other organisation with the relevant stature began a dialogue with all the large supermarkets which have this effect on a local High Street. There needs to be greater transparency about the deals local authorities come to with these large, powerful, rich organisations which have a huge influence on the daily lives of ordinary folk who largely are unaware of where the relevant decisions are made and by whom. Also the quality of goods does vary from time to time as does the service. sometimes it is good but at others it is not and at this time of the year there were no English apples in store except small ones already in bags and I want to choose my own!

I never go into the place,they should be cut doun to size, they are only out for what they can get and take over, then people will find that tes call the tune on price! and all the other shps are gone and will not be back, we will be like the yanks, another BAD thing!!!!!!!!!

I think Tesco is big con and I do not shop there I have had problems with there special offers not working out. Also damage to a car that was completely their fault took 6 months to get satisfaction

Lynne Taylor says:
9 September 2011

Tesco have killed off the town where I live, the center is now mainly charity shops. Their produce and bread is below the standard of other supermarkets, at the end of the day you get what you pay for. After 8.00pm you have to use the self service tills as all the staffed tills close. Once they rule the world, you will have to dance to their tune, to some extent you do already and when they push up their prices their will be nowhere else to go. As for creating jobs, they are putting local shopkeepers out of work, job seekers at Tesco will find they have to work unsocial hours for minimum pay.

It is up to consumers, as a shaerholder I welcome the total monopoly of Tesco the shopper is there to be plucked. I must admit it is an 8 miles to town but Tesco is only 10 minutes away and it is free parking.

Local Lady says:
9 September 2011

Tesco can afford to open stores that make a loss. Here on Mill Road in Cambridge we have a Tesco Express (against the wishes of the majority) which is more expensive than the Co-op a few doors down. The Co-op has seen no real change as a result of Tesco’s arrival, and is always busy. By contrast the Tesco store seldom has more than 6 people in it at any one time. But there it is, taking up space, and tempting even more chains into a street that used to be full of locally owned and run shops. We are now to get a Sainsburys Local, another expensive so called ‘local’ shop owned by a chain. No on wants this either. Chain shops lead to rent rises which force out local shop owners. Worse, they attract chain eateries and cafes which drive out local business all over again. Out street is in danger of becoming just another clone street full of people who don’t really care about the area. The Co-op was really the only supermarket we needed. It is cheaper than both Tesco Express (and Sainsburys Local), which in turn are more expensive than their main stores. And that, along with the billions of pounds in tax that Tesco avoid paying, is why is dislike them: they lead people to believe that their so called local stores are cheap. They are not.

mike in prescot says:
9 September 2011

I have seen the demise of an old market town I was born in over the years due to bad planning rent/rate rises and council policies.
Tesco and other supermarkets have only taken advantage of weak or bad politicians and an indifferent general public attitude.
I agree with the fact the supermarkets take more jobs and money out from an area than it puts in. I think they impoverishes an area. Most of the local shop keepers lived whithin a couple of miles of their businesses and bought from local producers or the local markets.
Big supermarkets destroy local communities.
The common agricultural policy after the war set in the rot. The drive to provide cheap food and the way it was funded meant the demise of small family farms and local markets.
It played into the hands of the bigger consortiums and centralisation.
Tesco is now playing the sports card working with the big sports clubs wanting to build new stadiums on green field sites.with a tesco next door oiling the wheels. Examples are St. Helens rugby club and Everton football club.
I also think the majority of people working for the supermarkets don’t enjoy their sterile working enviroment.
I hate shopping in Tesco, I reluctantly shop in other supermarkets, (not much choice now).
I will never work in one!

Tesco are ruthless. They are clever. They force their plans through by any means. They treat their customers with disdain. Their clever pricing policy fools people into thinking they have got a good deal. Pity they are in that business, they should be in government

My main complaint with Tesco is that they stock what they want you to purchase, not what you want to buy.
For example no sun block on the shelves in October as space needed for Christmas goods

Lesley says:
10 September 2011

It’s not just a case of ordinary shopping st Tesco – they are striving for dominance in what looks like every other area too – banking, insurance, telecoms to name a few! If they go on like this they’ll rename this nation Tescoland! I resent their squeezing of local shopping centres, fleecing struggling producers, and their devious ways of getting round local opposition by acquiring sites through third parties and completely ignoring the wishes of local people. The only times I shop in Tesco is when there is no way to get what I need in another shop – preferably a local shopkeeper (while they still exist).

every little helps-Tesco. does not help anyone else, shoppers, farmers etc; there motto should be ‘give the fools what they want’ Too many people are fooled by the ‘BOGOF’ claims.There’s no such thing as ‘free’ But, people will eventually get what they deserve- pay Tesco price or go without. They will always beat the small man by underhand tactics and tax avoidance.

Brian Towers says:
12 September 2011

It may now be too late. Tesco seems to be more powerful than any local authority. It may become too powerful for central government, unless there is some new legislation to stop it.

The supermarket is here to stay, but Tesco is far too powerful and all embracing. Having said that – Ludlow may be an example of how a town can live with Tesco. Shepton Mallet is an example of how a town will die if Tesco has a free hand.

June Britton says:
12 September 2011

I HATE Tesco, they are gobbling up the world and its commerce!! I Love the CO-OP wouldn’t shop anywhere else

I wonder if they had a sign over the door that read “YE OLDE VILLAGE SHOPPE” folks might not complain quite so much !

I learnt over the weekend, thanks to QI, that ‘Ye’ was actually pronounced ‘The’. There was a letter that simply truncated the ‘TH’ – it looked a bit like a Y, so that’s what printing presses used. So actually ‘Ye Olde Village Shoppe’ was pronounced ‘The Old Village Shop’ just as we do now.

Back on topic – I’m sure people would complain about it just as much if there was a chain of shops called that, rather than Tesco/Asda. Though I’d hate to be the company trying to sue actual little local shops that use that name, because they would be infringing on their trademark 😉

How about Ye Aldi Village Shoppe or Ye Olde Village Shoppe EXTRA?

JinnyG says:
12 September 2011

I hear so many people decrying Tesco but saying they shop there anyway – hypocritical or what?! I had an unpleasant experience with Tesco a year ago – they piled the shelves too high and product fell on me and broke my very expensive glasses. After 11 weeks of trying to get any kind of joined-up thinking from the “customer services” – they refused my claim for a measley and accurate £250. Their attitude was so arrogant I made up my mind there and then that I would NEVER set foot in a Tesco store again. I have put my money where my mouth is so come on all you hypocrites – if you don’t like Tesco – DON’T SHOP THERE! It’s easy! If we all used our feet, Tesco would very soon have a problem and maybe, just maybe stop being the arrogant, aggressive and de-sensitised market force that they have become. And would those high street shops thank us! Just do it, I did.

Do Tesco have influence ? power ? have you tried reporting a theft ? I once reported a theft from my market stall. The police said. ‘ well what do you expect if you leave things where people can pick them up?. TESCO Chelmsford, a guy walks out with a portable tele. without paying. within minutes four police cars race there, a helecopter and umpteen police scour the area. Nuff said.

I think that Tesco are simply the most successful in a very competitive environment. It is to be hoped that other supermarket companies continue to compete effectively to the eventual benefit of the consumer. It is also to be hoped that our planners have the long term and local issues under control. However on this last point I am less confident.

C Wells says:
13 September 2011

I am making determined efforts to use any other shop whether local or supermarket in my area as the Tesco which cannily took over a small operation in Swains Lane north London is clearly aiming at secondary school pupils at lunchtime at passing visitors. The prices are high the range is poor for residents and the staff don’t have to try because there is a captive market of people buying sandwiches, cigarettes and alcohol. I have sent several specific complaints to Head Office about poor service such as lack of trolleys, mis pricing and overlong queues and never had a reply. Please everyone, VOTE WITH YOUR FEET AND YOUR WALLET