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I would just like to write on Tesco, based on some of the experiences that I have had of it over the past few years as a customer. Although you may not agree with everything that I have to say on them, this is the whole point of Ciao – to air ones own views, whilst still providing a reasonable account of the subject matter aswell.
In writing this review, I intend to go about it in the following manner. First off, I shall give an explanation of the different forms of shop or store that Tesco currently provides. I shall then go on to give my general advantages and disadvantages of the company, finishing in conclusion with what I feel overall about them. Somewhere in amongst it all, I shall also try to explain some of the other services that Tesco offers.
Just a little background, to say that Tesco is one of the four largest supermarket chains in this country – with Asda (owned by Wal-Mart); Sainsbury's, and Morrisons (who now own the Safeway chain). I hope to cover as much as I possibly can during the course of this review, but if there is something that I have missed out on then please do let me know. So here goes!
What different types of store does Tesco offer?
Tesco Express – this is more of a basic 'corner shop' style of store, normally found in high density inner city residential areas such as close to high levels of student populations (although this store won't be found actually in a city/ town centre). Only carrying the more basic items that you will need such as basic food items suitable for making the majority of meals; milk; snacks; drinks (both soft and alcoholic), and magazines. I mentioned that this is more of a corner shop style setup for that reason – inasmuch as you only would really frequent it if you ran out of something, or on your way home you are planning a small meal for yourself and need the ingredients for it. Opening hours will of course vary in these stores, according to locations.
One Stop shops – similar to the above, these were bought out by Tesco but are the only Tesco stores not to have the company name in its title. No explanation needed, owing too its similarities to the above mentioned category.
Tesco Metro – normally found in the middle of a busy shopping centre in a large town, this store would carry all of the above plus would carry a small amount of 'other items' such as stationary; cards, and seasonal goods at the right times. Again, opening hours will of course vary from location to location so always check out your local one by the telephone (or online) before venturing out.
Tesco Homeplus – a warehouse style shop, selling non-food items. At present, there are only a small number of these currently in existence in the country although there are plans afoot to create more in the future.
Tesco Extra/ those other out of town supermarkets/ superstores of similar descriptions, but are just called normal 'Tesco'! These stores are normally found anywhere outside of the main town/ city, normally out past the residential suburbs. Tesco Extra stores (as all shops in this category shall now be known as!) differ from the others as mentioned above, and not just because they are somewhat bigger. The reasons for them being so huge are because they cover the whole range of foodstuffs that you could imagine (including drinks here); they hold massive quantities of entertainment items from the latest CD's to full on home entertainment systems that do everything for you apart from making the tea; clothing that is reasonably priced and an OK fashion (although it is not quite you top of the range high street fashion show); home ware; garden items (but plants etc only – no furniture in-store), and car care goods. In fact, pretty much anything that you can think of to buy is all under one roof (they should have taken the slogan that Toys R Us were using...).
Other services that may be in store (although they may vary slightly from store to store depending on size/ space available etc) can include a pharmacy; photo processing; dry cleaning and a mobile telephone stand, although most stores now do sell a small selection of phones anyway. There is of course in all big stores the complementary cafe, and of course customer toilets. Opening hours yet again do vary from shop to shop, although more are now opening 24 hours a day from around 8am on a Monday morning to about 10pm on a Saturday evening (with of course the usual Sunday trading laws applying).
As well as in store times, most if not all of these stores have petrol stations also attached to them with the usual facilities attached to them (small shop/ kiosk; gas; air; car wash). But sometimes, the petrol station may offer different opening times to the main store so please be careful if you think that you can fill up as you may not be able to do so!
Smaller shops with petrol stations attached to them – in and around Plymouth are a small number of Tesco shops with petrol stations attached to them, although the petrol stations are not actually in fact run by Tesco. They are a joint venture with Esso, although you can still collect Clubcard points on your fuel. These shops carry about the number of items that is somewhere in the region of the Tesco Metro store, as previously described above.
Tesco online – www.tesco.co.uk is their online food shopping arm, and it is here that you can order all of your own grocery shopping from the comfort of your own home. When shopping, you go through the site as you would do when you are in tore; then you check out, and state a time slot that you wish for your shopping to be delivered. But of course, there are only a certain number of spaces within each of the time slots – so if your desired one is full up, then sadly you will have to go for another one (meaning of course that you will have to stay in for slightly longer!).
The advantage of doing your shopping in this manner (apart from not having to go out and get wet or cold in the middle of winter), is that you don't have to queue up behind someone who is taking forever just to buy a cheese sandwich. Aswell as that, you can also be rest assured that another person is doing your shopping for you in the meantime – and getting for you exactly what you want! However, the disadvantage is that you may not always get fresh fruit or veg – you know what I mean! As when you go shopping in person, you can pick the best of the bunch f what you see in front of you. But sadly, not everyone may think just like you and so may think that you have ordered so many bananas – and so that is what you are going to get!
Other online shops – www.tescodirect.com is their 'other items' website, and by this I mean all things non-food. Here, you can buy anything from the latest Leona Lewis/ Will Young single to a full on bedroom suite – and the best bit is that it will be all delivered to your door! The only downfall on this is that you cannot see what it is that you are hoping to buy before you buy it, as if you are anything like me then if you see it first in the shop then you can at least have a bit of a better mental picture as to how it will look once it gets in to your living room. Of course if it is not right, then you will have to go through all of the hassle of sending it back and waiting for another one to come along in its place!
Tesco finance – www.tescofinance.com is, as the name would suggest their finance division although there is no actual high street bank to go in to. Although some shops may have a smaller stand/ area within them with a member of staff manning it (but these are very few and far between), the majority if not all of the rest if your finance dealings are done online/ over the telephone. The services that are provided (under the trading name of 'Tesco Bank') are – motor insurance; travel insurance; home insurance; pet insurance; loans; credit cards, and savings although the only savings accounts that they currently offer are the Internet Saver and the Instant Access Savings Account. Within the travel insurance section, they also offer breakdown cover.
Tesco Clubcard – need I say very much on this!?!?!?!? Signing up to this is free and easy, and once you have got your card (there is a temporary one on the application pack) you can then use it whenever you shop to get two points for every one pound that you spend in store. But of course, the usual conditions and restrictions apply! No stamps; not lottery, and so on.
Garden centres – need I explain what a garden centre is! Out of all of the garden centres that are currently owned by Tesco, half are in the Scotland area with the other half in England.
Where else does Tesco trade?
Currently in central/ eastern Europe (the Czech Republic through to Turkey); the Far East (Japan; Indonesia and the surrounding areas including China), and the USA. There are also a small number of stores in northern France, for those people who are travelling to/ back from the Continent.
So what are the disadvantages of using Tesco then?
Well, the main thing is that not only does it buy out other stores (not that there is anything wrong with this but some of them are family owned companies that may have been in existence for quite some time) they also open up shops that are close to other similar (but smaller) stores – thus, in some instances forcing them to finish business for good because they simply cannot compete with their prices.
So are there any advantages then?
As wrong as this may seem, I like to use Tesco more now than I would do my own corner shop for the following reasons:
The staff are a lot more friendly in Tesco stores than they are in my corner shop. The prices are a lot cheaper and I can get more for my money. Chances are that the food is a lot fresher as they have daily deliveries and certain guidelines for keeping food close to its sell by date. They appear to support local businesses a lot more and sell more of a wider range of goods giving us better choice. By local businesses, I mean milk coming from local farms within the area; meat and eggs from similar places, and so on.
I also like it that once every three months (providing of course I have enough points on my clubcard), I am sent a voucher for a certain amount of money to be spent in store. Although this has normally got about a two year use by date on it, it is handy to use right away so that you don't have to worry about taking out quite as much money with you. It is also handy that they send you various vouchers for extra points on various things, so that you can build your points up a lot quicker.
And so to conclude, I can see that a lot of people would actually in fact disagree with me here but unless you know that your local business provides better quality then use Tesco – no doubt there is one near you! But with that said, there are certain things that I know that I may not be able to get at Tesco that may be at my local shop – of course, a busy Tesco store may sell out of the more popular lines and so you will then have to venture more locally. However, if there were many local shops close together (as indeed there are in Plymouth city centre) then I would venture there for my shopping.
But getting pretty much everything that you would need under one roof is an idea thing for me, and I would say to you that it is so much easier to do your shopping in one foul swoop. In today's society where people appear to be a lot more busier, then just making one trip to their supermarket is becoming increasingly popular. But that is no to say that I don't support the more local shop, as I have already stated if there appears to be more than one in an area then I will happily utilise it if I need to. But in the meantime, I shall carry on using Tesco until something drastic happens!