Lichfield’s Tesco barely seems to have been closed for five minutes and already the ironwork shoots of a replacement are starting to spring up.
The new store will change the city’s landscape both physically and on the shopping front, bringing the ‘all under one roof’ flavour to Lichfield.
I’ve already questioned the merits of this type of large scale development so close to the city centre in the Friarsgate delay post, but there must surely be concern for the future of Lichfield’s other five supermarkets when the doors do reopen.
If you include Iceland and Marks and Spencer in the city itself, then the battle for custom is likely to rage once Tesco returns to the playing field – and I can’t help but feel that something will have to give.
Which one of the big guns will feel the pain of Tesco’s return to the greatest extent is difficult to call. Morrisons always seemed busy even before their main rival took a sabbatical, while Waitrose’s position in Toytown Darwin Park and the status it occupies in the hearts and minds of Lichfield’s supermarket snobbery should see it safe.
The two German contenders are likely to enjoy the flipside of Waitrose’s success. They cater for very different markets, although it’ll be interesting to see whether Aldi’s trade suffers from the huge superstore it’ll soon be in the shadow of.
And that leaves Co-op as the last of the big guns and, in my opinion, looking the most likely of the the shopping horses to be pulled up before Becher’s Brook.
The position of the store in Boley Park should be a bonus, but it’s the lack of identity the supermarket has had which throws up all sorts of problems. The closure of Tesco finally seemed to put a rocket of the backside of the Co-op and they’ve re-jigged the aisles and given the place a lick of paint.
But Co-op just doesn’t seem to have as strong an image as the competition. It is also likely to suffer in the same way as Aldi because, geographically, it’s almost in the shadow of the new kid on the block.
Even with the new look and the influx of customers following Tesco’s sabbatical, the store never feels as busy as any of the others.
The people of Lichfield may well have had room for all these supermarkets 12 months or so ago, but the financial downturn and the visible reduction of people in all shops in the city make you wonder whether there’s an appetite for five major stores in such a close vicinity.