Futurology blog: what’s the next trend that’ll disrupt our world, financially, socially or just pointlessly?

Monday, 6 October 2008

The superstore bubble is about to pop

In today’s economic climate, does it make any sense to force your customers to burn litres of overpriced petrol to waste their afternoons visiting a store that’s sitting on acres of land that’s losing its value faster than your tills can rake it in? Superstores and out-of-town retail parks, yesterday was the tip of your boom.

Yesterday? Yesterday we had a panicky phone call from a friend who’d been stuck in gridlock for over an hour with two small children. Where exactly? In the exit lane of the Tesco car park.

It’s the inevitable result of turning a neighbourhood supermarket into a superstore that now attracts customers from a vast area of North London. Basically, since this Tesco extended its floorspace and somehow squashed in more parking spaces (against the wishes of the locals) it’s become too popular for its own good.

The planning is idiotic. As soon as the parking lot reaches critical capacity, the cars trying to get in cause a jam in the surrounding roads which makes it impossible for cars to get out. Finally, the tailback brings the North Circular motorway to a standstill, followed by more and more of the local roads as desperate motorists try to find a way around the blockage.

As neighbours go, Tesco is one who buys the house next to yours, crams a family into each bedroom, two more in the front room and then diverts their excess sewage onto your lawn.

But I don’t expect it to last.

How many times does anyone want to spend an hour or more trying to leave a car park? Any savings from Tesco’s “deals” are quickly negated by the petrol they waste. The locals already head in the opposite direction to do their shopping. I’m willing to bet that Tesco’s abomination will be a vast white elephant in a year’s time as people turn to smaller supermarkets and the corner store.

(Whoever sorts out an internet grocery shopping set-up that delivers your stuff to convenient always-open local sites will also clean up big time.)

101 uses for a dead Tesco, anyone?

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