In London…

Date: 2008. 11. 16. 08:00

Though I had not been in London since Dockland has become a new city centre, rain and 13 °C quickly persuaded me that walking around is not such a great idea. However, I still succeeded in checking out how self service cash registers work in TESCO hyper markets, or more precisely, the total lack of enthusiasm from customers. Maybe, the only reason for this was that it was Sunday, with only a few people waiting to pay. A bit later, I decided to visit a Marks & Spencer store in Crawley, to see the food hall. It was quite a surprise to see something like a discount with premium category interior behind the clothing department. All products in the food hall were private labels under the Marks & Spencer brand. Premium category packaging and facing everywhere and slightly more items than generally stocked by a discount store. The assortment of refrigerated (not frozen) instant dishes was incredible. For example, a salmon steak with vegetables and rice costs GBP 5.50 per unit. It is also possible to order all food for a party from a catalogue, several days in advance at the customer service desk. Naturally, all conceivable information about the ingredients is also provided, including photos. Sainbury’s was a different story. I saw a poster on the shop window saying that you can pay your utility bills, your local tax and even insure your car in the store. It wasn’t a joke. True to their slogan „Try something new today” Sainsbury’s offers all sorts of financial services, in addition to food. By the way, Sainsury’s is the best online banking service provider in 2008, according to Your Money magazine. If I want insurance for my car, my holiday trip or my pet, I will get it at a discounted rate from Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s is not the only retail chain providing insurance services, with Debenhams, ASDA and TESCO all competing in this sector as well. There is also Sainsbury’s Bank, which offers loans up to GBP 25,000. Of course, they are not alone in this sector either, because their competitors also offer financing to customers. However, we will have to wait a few years to see whether this strategy of offering a diverse range of extra services is successful in the long run, or not.