4 September 2014 – do Tesco’s struggles offer opportunities for markets?

In last week’s Observer (31 August), journalist Sarah Butler reported some views on what priorities the new CEO of UK Tesco could be facing in his new job as sales continue to fall and pressure from discount chains Aldi and Lidl grows. These opinions ranged from – addressing pricing and marketing, to store numbers and ranges (particularly cutting the number of big out-of-town stores), to raising store standards and improving customer care, to improving fresh food quality, and even prioritising Christmas! One perception was that people no longer use one store to ‘do everything’ – they pick and choose between the range of supermarket offerings. For example, Aldi and Lidl to save money and Waitrose for quality and service.

As previously noted on this blog, one can’t help thinking that there really is a sea-change going on, and that this presents opportunities to raise the profile of food markets. As the presence of small supermarkets grows on the high street (which raises prices), so the quality, range and value of fresh produce available on markets will become more obvious – and, as customers react to poor staff morale (and lack of staff) in supermarkets, so recognition that local markets are places for social shopping, where customer care is still the norm, could become a key attraction.

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