First came ‘local’ supermarkets, then online shopping, now it’s time for drive-thru ‘shopping’. So is this the ultimate in convenience or just retail gone mad?
This week, shoppers in Hertforshire get to be guinea pigs for Tesco’s latest venture – a drive-thru supermarket.
Just pre-order your shopping online, head to the supermarket in a two-hour time-slot and sit back while staff load your boot with goodies. Then head home without even leaving your car seat.
So is this the future of supermarket shopping? At the moment it’s only a pilot in one store, but if it’s successful Tesco will roll it out and others will inevitably follow. (Waitrose already has a similar scheme, but you have to go in to collect your shopping). In a couple of years, drive-thru shopping could be firmly established in our everyday lives.
The pros and cons of convenience
On the one hand, this is great news for consumers – more choice, more convenience. It will undoubtedly benefit those with mobility difficulties and I understand that many people find it hard to get to the shops. And yet this concept still saddens me.
It’s yet another way of avoiding interaction with strangers and makes shoppers even further removed from the products they’re buying. No more pondering over whether the Braeburns or pink ladies look best this week or cooking tonight’s dinner based on what tempts you from the fish counter. Just get your goods and go.
Tesco says it’s expecting the scheme to be popular with parents who want to avoid taking children into busy stores and ‘young professionals who cannot commit to waiting at home for a delivery’.
But how will kids learn about shopping for food if they never step foot in a supermarket? Why should ‘young professionals’ have everything handed to them on a plate? As someone who falls neatly into both ‘parent’ and ‘young professional’ categories, I agree this sounds convenient but I can’t help but feel resistant to this change in the way we shop.
Am I being old-fashioned? Should I move with the times and accept that shopping isn’t as personal as it used to be? Maybe, but for now I’ll do my best to pick my food personally.