‘Big 4’ supermarket Tesco is planning to get rid of its remaining in-store fresh food counters according to a report in The Telegraph.
The move is said to be a response to changing consumer habits which see shoppers opt for pre-packed goods over fresh to keep food bills lower.
Tesco closed more than 300 fresh food counters earlier this year, and the remaining 279 are now reportedly being scrapped to cut running costs – a move which could put hundreds of jobs on the line.
The supermarket declined to comment when approached by Food Matters Live.
Fresh food counters like butchers and fishmongers are declining in popularity broadly, according to data from retail analytics company IGD.
Statistics from the final three months of 2021 revealed fewer than one in ten consumers visited fresh counters while shopping in-store.
Despite evidence that consumers aren’t engaging with the offering in the way they once were, Retail Consultant Richard Hyman told The Telegraph the move represented “a raising of the white flag”.
“I would view it negatively, because it is withdrawing from an area of business – service – where British supermarkets could offer true differentiation,” he said.
Hyman added that he believes there was definitely a space for fresh food counters during a cost of living crisis, if done properly.
“There is definitely a market for fresh food, and during the cost of living crisis I think we are going to see people eating out less and cooking from home more often, so the kind of variety these counters can offer may be something that is more in demand,” he said.
“But if you are going to do something in retail, you need to do it well – and doing it in a mediocre fashion, simply as an excuse to charge higher prices, will just result in the sort of reaction from shoppers that we have seen.”
The supermarket is a hotbed of ideas aimed at capturing consumer attention and retaining their custom, and tech is just one major element of this. Find out more in this episode of the Food Matters Live Podcast: