It’s over three months since a Tesco Express opened in Dinas Powys. Has it had a devastating effect on local shops? Well, no. There have been no shop closures as a result of Tesco opening in Dinas Powys to date (in fact, the empty unit vacated by Lifestyle Furniture on Cardiff Road in the Day 1 post is now Dinas Vets).
This is not to say that the opening of a Tesco Express (or other ‘corner shops’ operated by major supermarket chains) won’t have detrimental effects on local shops in other communities. In this series of posts, a main theme is to examine why the impact differs in different locations. What factors enable independent shops and major retail chains to co-exist?
One thing to consider is how well the major is performing. Anyone who regularly walks past this Tesco Express is likely to tell you that it is nowhere near as busy as equivalent stores in Penarth or
. It does not get the footfall in this
location, nor the customers through its door, to seriously flex its competitive
muscle. It has impacted Spar, Valley View Fruit Stores, Mark Griffith Family
Butcher, and others mentioned in the Day 1 post, but seemingly not to the
extent that it threatens retail diversity. Cardiff
It’s probably worth noting that Tesco Express has also had some setbacks during its first 100 days. In January, some freezer units broke, resulting in food being binned. In early February, an awful smell pervaded the store, caused by external drains. Notices in-store apologized for the smell, saying that the situation would be rectified as soon as possible. Apparently The Royal Oak, previously on this site, had a similar problem; possibly exacerbated by pub food fat. This month, the drain odour issue returned, with possible sewage notes. Customers for a while were not loitering in the aisles, and some were walked straight in and out again through the doors prominently displaying the perfect 5 Food Hygiene Rating certificate. Welsh Water and their contractor have been frequent visitors to the area (and the smell has not been confined to Tesco). The drains and sewers that run up nearby
have not been upgraded since the original houses were built. Major development
has since occurred (e.g., Windyridge, Murch Crescent), and their are plans to
build an additional 340 new houses on the site of the St Cyres school annexe at
the top of Murch Road (at the end of the antiquated system that flows all the
way down the hill to the Tesco Express at the bottom).
Local shops can adapt flexibly and quickly to changing situations (in ways that chain stores offering predictable stock cannot). When a local hardware store closed a couple of years ago, for instance, Valley View Fruits Stores started stocking more pet supplies and hardware items. They have continued along this route, by stocking non-food items you can’t buy in Tesco. Meanwhile, the Spar is starting to look as much like an off-license as a convenience grocery shop.
Customer loyalty to locally-owned and independent shops is obviously a key factor that enables them to co-exist with major retailers. Customers in Dinas Powys have largely remained loyal to those long-established shops where they are known by name, and where the shopkeepers will go the extra mile for them when it comes to ordering and delivering. Corporate loyalty cards are just not the same thing. I’ll return to this, with specific examples, in future posts that focus on the importance of local shops in a community.
The Tesco Express in Dinas Powys, during its first 100 days, has therefore not had the negative impact on retail diversity that some of its critics feared. On the plus side, it has enhanced the food choice available in the village. Will the multinational corporation’s head office be content when it sees the turnover figures for this store? If not, how will they respond? I’ll keep you posted.
Tesco Express Dinas Powys: Day 1
Tesco Express Dinas Powys: Day 25