Downgrade to convenience store format likely to mean higher prices
Ealing Broadway Store still has Tesco Metro sign. Picture: Mark Hillary
Regular shoppers at the Tesco supermarket in the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre have noticed a number of price rises recently.
When questioned about this the company admitted that the local branch which is currently branded as a Metro store has just been turned into an Express due to changing shopping patterns locally. This is likely to mean permanently high prices and lower stock levels.
One customer said, “Prices went up overnight on Sunday (18 July) by about 8/10%. There has been no notice in the store to explain to customers, although they closed an hour early on Sunday, presumably to reprice every item on their shelves. This is pure price gouging in my opinion. Their claim that shopping patterns have changed is simply a lie. This store has always had people shop daily rather than doing 'a weekly shop'.”
Although no announcement has been made the Tesco web site already shows the Ealing Broadway store as being an Express and a number of customers have said they have noticed price ranges across a range of products. Concern has been raised that the store will no longer benefit from the lower prices normally available in larger format stores including Tesco Extra superstores. Other stores in the Tesco network that were previously in the Metro format are to be rebranded as superstores. Tesco say that their Express stores are ‘extremely competitive compared to other convenience stores.’
The company started the process of converting Metro stores into Express in 2019 saying that originally the format was designed for larger weekly shops but that 70% of customers were using them as convenience stores. In a press release issued in 2019 the company said that the changes would result in a reduction of 4,500 staff employed at Tesco Metros across the country
An Express store typically has fewer products in the back room stores and a leaner management structure with Tesco saying it is ‘simplify our ways of working’.
Tesco did not address our query as to how much on average prices will rise as a result or what impact there would be on stock levels.
One customer pointed out that the nearest superstore is about 30 minutes away on public transport which means that non-car owners and the elderly in the area are having to pay more for less choice.
The redesignation of the Tesco store as a convenience store appears to offer little benefit as the store is too large to qualify for unrestricted Sunday opening unlike the Sainsbury’s Local across the road from the shopping centre or the nearby Amazon Fresh.
Tesco opened at the site in 2007 taking it over from Morrisons who have since opened up a large store nearby. Prior to that it was a Safeway and the location has always been seen by many locals as the main supermarket for central Ealing. Concerns have been raised that, if the anchor tenant at the centre loses customers because of relatively higher prices, this may reduce footfall impacting other shops in the centre.
A Tesco spokesperson told us “Over the last few years, we have seen our customers’ shopping habits change and we have taken the decision to re-brand all of our Metro stores to better reflect this. Our Metro format was originally designed for larger, weekly shops, but today nearly 70% of customers use them as convenience stores, buying food for that day so the majority of them will be rebranded as Express stores.”
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July 22, 2021