Sunday, 10 May 2009

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee !!

Tesco has become a way of life in the UK - the name is now a household word and universally recognised by almost all in this country.

In many areas, it's difficult to avoid using them. Their stores seem to be everywhere and many smaller independent traders have succumbed.

Are Tesco becoming too big and too powerful ? Although they have competition in the form of the other supermarkets like Sainsbury, Asda and Waitrose, their stores are not usually positioned next to each other, so all have their strongholds.                                                                              

We have noticed that despite special offers like two-for-one schemes, supermarket prices do seem to be going up - at least the bill for our weekly shop appears to be increasing alarmingly. 

Many shoppers blindly tread the Tesco's path each week, but not everybody is a Tesco follower.

Tescopoly is effectively an anti-Tesco movement and their website reads:


"Tesco now controls over 30% of the grocery market in the UK. In 2009, the supermarket chain announced profits of over £3bn.

Growing evidence indicates that Tesco's success is partly based on trading practices that are having serious consequences for suppliers, farmers and workers worldwide, local shops and the environment".



"Having travelled to many countries to meet farmers it was very clear that supermarkets treated all farmers equally - unfortunately that is equally badly and it was the name of Tesco which came up time and time again. If we are to have a future as farmers and sustainable agriculture then we need to control supermarket power" - Michael Hart, chairman of Small and Family Farms Alliance


Many people in the UK complain about Tesco, as if they are Enemy No.1.

In fact, in my humble opinion, we, the consumer, are our own enemy.

If we didn't shop there, Tesco would have no customer base.

Tesco have given the average UK consumer what they want. A large range of products under one roof, with easy access, quick service and acceptable pricing.

Reading this, you could be forgiven for thinking that I am a Tesco fan.

Not at all.

However, you have to admit they have a slick marketing machine. They have worked out what shoppers want and have given it to them.

Personally, I do not enjoy shopping there, but I DO.

I'm sure that most of the shoppers who use the store couldn't care less about the farmers or the conditions of clothes workers in Bangladesh.

In fairness to supermarkets, they are only giving the consumer what they want.

Perhaps, the real problem is the selfishness of the UK shopper. I have noticed that they barge their trolleys around the store, just looking to get their provisions as fast as possible and be gone. They park their cars as close to the store doors as they can get and I'm sure if they could drive their car into the store, then they would.

How about a drive-in supermarket ?  You could then get all your weekly shopping without even having to get out of the driving seat. I'm surprised it's not happened already. 

Many supermarkets are now starting to sell household appliances like vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens,  mobile phones, even laptops. They compete head-to-head with other non-food retailers like Comet, B+Q, PC World and so on. Their prices are very competitive.

Where are we heading, retail-wise, in this country ?

If Tesco and their fellow superstores gain the upper hand in all these product groups, they will be in an ideal situation to name their own price in the future.

Isn't this what happened to your local greengrocer or butcher - where are they all now ?

For this reason, we have started to resist the lure of the "Big T" ranch and we spread our shopping around, giving business to several retailers rather than just one. We don't want to see our choice restricted in the future.

We believe that the quality of fresh meat, etc that is available to us these days, in supermarkets, has decreased. For this reason, we have exercised our right to the free economy and have started buying our fresh meat and vegetables from local farm shops.

We still use supermarkets, but mainly for products like washing powder, cleaning products, toiletries, etc.

We tend to go for organic products in farm shops, mainly sourced or grown locally.

Surprisingly enough, its not that much more expensive, but we feel we get a better quality and we actually enjoy the shopping experience.

We often have coffee and cake in the cafe part of the farm shop and the people there are genuinely friendly (we actually get eye contact without the robotic, emotionless incantations of "do you need help packing" that is so common nowadays in supermarkets).

We also make a point of walking or cycling into the villages that we pass on the river and we patronise their small shops - if they have a butchers, grocers, etc, still, then we use them.

Its more inconvenient - we actually have to visit more than one shop each week and we can't wheel our trolley to the car bumper, but hey, what have we become in this nation of ours ??     

The shopping experience in Britain in the next decade, could just become a drive-in experience, with only 5 different superstores to choose from and no small independent retailers.

Imagine that, just 5 superstore names and a plethora of antique shops...

In certain states in the USA, they actually have no sidewalks (pavements). Cycling is unheard of and they have drive-in ATM's and banks. Do we want to go the same way ?

Wake up and smell the Coffee - if you don't use it, you will most definitely lose it.

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