I went to the Shell petrol station this morning and took the opportunity for a quick first look round Headington’s latest convenience store, “little Waitrose”.
First impressions are good – the store is light, and has a much more spacious feel than say Morrisons or Tesco, both of which are very cramped. There seemed to be a good selection of Waitrose stock, including fresh fruit and veg, packet salads etc. I noticed fresh pasta too. There are basic toiletries and household goods. I didn’t compare prices but others have said things are more expensive than in the main store, which is no surprise. I did notice one hallmark of the convenience store – bananas and other fruit are priced per piece, not by weight.
Fans of the Waitrose loyalty scheme need to be warned – their My Waitrose card has no value here. There’s no free coffee, no free papers and no 10%-off offers. I have heard these benefits may come later, though personally I’m doubtful if it will happen.
The main problem, and my specific complaint, is that the three or four checkout stations are shared between the store and the petrol. On my visit only one was staffed, meaning those only wanting to pay for petrol have to queue and wait while grocery shoppers (thankfully only one in my case) have their purchases processed and packed. This will not be popular with motorists who only want petrol, especially at busy times.
The converse is that people buying petrol and groceries spend longer in the shop and block the petrol pumps. I took the only free pump, and between starting to fill up and finally leaving the forecourt, hardly any of the other vehicles had moved on.
If Waitrose can fix this problem I think the store should do well.