/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Would you use a drive-thru supermarket?

Tesco sign

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.


I’m with you Hannah on the desire to pick food personally. I think I may be unusual, but I actually quite look forward to supermarket trips and being able to browse the aisles and actually see the products I want in real life. Especially the case with fruit and veg – I’d never trust someone else to pick decent products for me.

I’m also with Hannah – Not only do I want to check over fruit and veg – but there are the odd special offers that appeal.
In addition the problem is that if a drive in supermarket is anything like the on-line delivery service offered by supermarkets then you will get “second choices” because what you ordered has run out.

Plus I shop at several shops for very different things at once in one place – I definitely don’t want to drive all over the place.

A very bad idea –


Sophie Gilbert says:
31 August 2010

I too think this is a step too far. For “convenience” read “never lift a finger”. Are we fostering a culture of utter physical laziness, when more and more people are becoming obese already? Now they won’t even have to step out of the car to get the only exercise they probably get.

I can see high-tech BMW & Audi bumper huggers loving this, me I hate it and them!

As someone with mobillity problems I do order on line once a month and get all my heavy goods delivered. BUT I still will go every few days for fresh fruit and veg etc. This drive thru would not be of any use to me or others with mobility as we would still need to take the goods from the car into the house. So it is a no go for us partially mobile individuals

Victoria says:
18 October 2010

This weekend I played with the idea of getting my groceries delivered for the first time. I looked on the website and became quite excited about the recipes available and how easy it would be to just click away and within a matter of hours have my shopping delivered to my kitchen! The product prices seemed reasonable and delivery prices ranged from free to £5.99 so I felt confident that I could get a good deal. However I chickened out at the last minute, instead opting to go to the ‘real’ supermarket instead. This was because they had a minimum spend of £40, I was worried that the fresh produce might not be that fresh if chosen by someone else (I tend to be quite particular about how ripe I like my bananas!) and thought that I would prefer the social aspect of going to the supermarket, to see other people and to choose my own fresh produce. However I opted to go late Saturday morning. This proved to be a big mistake. Having negotiated weekend traffic I then arrived at the car park to be hassled by men wanting to wash my car (even though i had already washed it that morning). Finding a space was difficult, to say the least, then I remembered that I couldn’t just park, get a trolley and go in, I had to go and get a ticket for my car (yes in the supermarket’s own car park!), I didn’t have the right change so had to over-pay. Then I had to split the ticket in two and put one half in the car. Then I needed a trolley and needed another pound. I didn’t have one! I’d used it on the car park machine. So, having negotiated my way through two women handing out unwanted leaflets for something or other (who were blocking the entrance), I went to the cigarette counter and queued up for change. When I eventually got to the cashier she informed me ‘I dont’ give out change. You have to go to customer services for that’. So then I had to go and queue again at customer services. By this time I’d had enough and wanted to just go home but I hadn’t even got a trolley yet. The rest of the shop was not much better, aisles blocked by people, no loose peaches and a long queue at the check out (behind a woman who spent about three or four minutes in a dispute with the cashier because she didn’t get the nectar points she wanted). Next time I think I’ll try the internet.

Diana Price says:
28 April 2011

Surely if you had got up earlier and organised your weekend shop and change it wouldn’t have been all that hassle, I have to say thats what i do, if i ever do it, work shifts though, so I am lucky.

I think I’d probably try it once for the novelty factor, but my last remaining pleasures of supermarket shopping (picking up, looking at, considering, comparing products etc) would be gone.

Ultimately it’ll come down to how much you value convenience over the pleasures of food shopping.

I wouldn’t use it – because I like to examine fruit and veg very personally – too much is unripe.

Equally I hate to order something I want – and to have a second choice delivered – it really infuriates me.

To me it is like ordering a 48″ TV and the shop delivering a portable!!