Have you been down the new Tesco?

 February 17, 2009         3 Comments

Tesco Banksy

Image by jordi.martorell via Creative Commons

I’ve just been for a walk around the new Tesco on Hanover Street, as people seem to do when a shop opens nearby. “Have you been to the new Tesco?” they ask, as if there’s something other than a busy and joyless stress experience waiting for you when you inevitably go.

The place is gleaming, even the baskets are new, clean and shiny – I was reminded of Tate Liverpool’s Shopping exhibition from a few years ago. Hardly anything seemed to be gone from the shelves when I was in there, and a man in shorts was striding around looking purposeful.

Apparently Cheggers had been in on the launch day to work as a regular Tesco drone, stacking shelves and working on a ‘Chegout’. Radio City had been there to celebrate. Did we always celebrate supermarkets opening? My friends at the Duke Street newsagents around the corner probably didn’t.

Inside there are two escalators that must be 100 ft long. They lead to an upstairs environment and move so slowly that to get from home baking to white goods can take upwards of a minute.

A woman’s voice warns trolley-wranglers over and over again to be prepared to push their food-tanks over the lip of the ground when they reach the next floor. It’s utterly infuriating yet strangely calming.

Indeed, though I generally detest supermarkets and the way they spring up on otherwise pleasant high streets, the effect of the new Tesco was like a dose of mogadon.

Whether this is a mixture of all the persuasion architecture supermarkets deploy towards fooling you into purchasing cakes, or whether the temperature and lulling escalator voice combined to overwhelm me, the result was to make me feel like I’d received a mild but not wholly unpleasant concussion.

On the way out I passed a cordon of beaming employees and a huge CCTV desk. Walking back onto Hanover Street was like a welcome bucket of water in the face. George Romero can’t come soon enough.


  1. Agree entirely with your sentiments. One observation would be that ‘Celebrities’ often clambour to the front of the queue for the opening of a letter. Opening your local Gateway, Safeway or Co-Op was seen as the lowest rung on the celebrity ladder, even lower than celebrity squares. I’m sure Bruno Brooks opened the Congleton branch of Sainsbury’s in 1995.

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