Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Waitrose, a supermarket, yes, most exciting. Why? Well a Waitrose just moved to Rickmansworth and is now our closest supermarket. Previously Ricky had the choice of just a medium sized Tesco and a small sized Marks & Spencer (and “Iceland”, if you count a frozen-goods store as a supermarket). We became Tesco shoppers, since the local M&S’s stock range is too limited to be of much use. M&S became the useful “cold meat and cheese stop” as it is only about 3 minutes away, while Tesco, a 10 minute walk, did for our weekly shopping.

Here in the UK supermarkets seem to have a class structure. Tesco is pretty much right in the middle, while M&S and Sainsbury’s position themselves as pretty classy. At the bottom of the class ladder are Morrisons and Aldi, while, at the top, Waitrose seems to lord it over the rest. So now Ricky has a high-class supermarket, if such a thing can exist (real class is not having to care about the shopping, let alone how or where it is done). This is all rather different from the situation back home in Australia where, generally, a supermarket is a supermarket with either Coles and Woolies being it, though there is a light sprinkling of “budget” chains like BiLo mostly to be found in less metropolitan areas (all owned by Coles or Woolies anyway).

It seems that Waitrose is now going to be our supermarket of choice, we’re just so bloody classy. Not only is it just across the train tracks from us (a one minute stroll aided by an overpass) but it also has brilliant variety! Though smaller than the Tesco-extra in Watford, which we had to stop shopping at when we dumped the car, it still seems to kill it on variety. One prime example is game meats, today we tallied up farmed venison, duck, and goose; plus game birds of pheasant, partridge, wood pigeon, and mallard! At a supermarket. They have a good range of “fresh” seafood, some good beers (including some of the St Peter’s range, though not any of our favourites), and more “foreign muck” than you can point a stick at. The only department they fail in a little is wholefoods, but they’re at least as good at the local Tesco on that front.

The vegies and general meats look decent too but I’ll stick to the little high street Chris Blake Butchers (chain) and Mark’s Fruits for these needs. So long as they can provide what I want I prefer to stick to the small guys, I’ll leave Waitrose for the occasional exotic ingredient.

The sudden existence of this new supermarket has me pondering local retail economics. How will this affect the Tesco and M&S? I assume the Tesco will suffer a decent drop in revenue as it was formerly the only resonable general supermarket in town. At the same time, I don’t think it’ll be as much as one might expect. While Waitrose was packed last Sunday this Sunday it was really rather quiet, I think a lot of people looked around and saw the same old stuff they get at Tesco and a whole load of stuff they don’t care about. Waitrose prices tend to be a little higher than Tesco prices, though I think the goods are a bit better in many cases, and people set a lot of importance in differences even as low as 5 quid per week. I think Waitrose is in a convenient position, but I live right in the middle of town and don’t have a car, anyone who drives isn’t going to care either way. The M&S could suffer quite a lot, I think it previously only really had any point due to it’s central location. Having a new “classy” supermarket nearby that is 5 times the size might be bad for it. I’d expect to find that many of the customers attracted to Waitrose will actually come from a local pool of people who drive to Watford for their groceries (as we did when we had a car), thus not having so great an impact on the local stores.

I do fear for the small High Street veggie shop and butcher though. Waitrose easily outdoes them on range, maybe on price. Like I said, I’ll stick to the little shops (everything’s a one minute walk away) but for many the convenience of the supermarket may overrule.

As for Waitrose, my fear is that very few locals will be interested in the items they stock that excite me. If nobody buys game birds they’ll stop stocking them and stock more bacon or something instead. Yay. Time will tell, I think Waitrose stock variety will be an interesting observational study (what kind of nerd am I?).

Enough of this dullardry! It’s just a bloody supermarket. (With game birds!)