The supermarket was very much a post war phenomena. New ideas and supply lines began to cross the Atlantic to be heartily embraced by the existing large retailers.
But selling the idea of a large, multi-purpose retail outlet to the Great British Housewife was no easy task. Tempered by the endless queueing and inevitable shortages of the war years and beyond, a shop that had a large range of items on the shelves at all times was regarded as a tad suspicious. It smacked of the ‘Spiv’ the man who could obtain you anything you desired – for a price!
Indeed, questions were raised in some of the more serious newspapers as to whether the new-fangled stores would lead to over spending and increase financial difficulties amongst the population!
But again, the British housewife was not about to be over-awed by the ‘filling of a basket’ format of buying.
The ingrained bargain hunter was still alive and well and not about to be rail-roaded by shelves loaded with the glittering prizes of conspicuous consumerism.
During the 60’s, supermarkets started to expand rapidly by selling more products in ever larger stores.
In 1961 Tesco Leicester entered the Guiness Book of Records as the largest store in Europe and in 1968 opened its first ‘superstore’ in Crawley, West Sussex.
Supermarkets revolutionised the way people shopped and by the 1970’s Tesco was building a national store network to cover the whole of the UK, which it continues to expand to this day, while also diversifying into other products and services.
As the supermarket giant has grown, so too has the number of places in the UK dubbed ‘Tesco town’.
In Inverness more than 50p in every pound spent on food by the city’s 66,000 residents is done so at a Tesco checkout! A similar dominance in other towns has sparked more than a little controversy! Because of their size, supermarkets have been accused by some of abusing their position by forcing smaller local shops out of business. According to non-profit organisation Ethical Network, local communities could be losing inward investment of up to £100 bn every year because of supermarket centralisation.