Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or M&S? Which one gets your vote at Christmas?

The fridge is full for Christmas - at last

Today we did a mega-shopping day visiting four supermarkets in a single day to get all the things on my ridiculous Christmas shopping list.

I think that puts me in a good position to assess the supermarkets’ readiness for December 23 – probably the busiest shopping day of the year – in Swindon at least.

First stop, by 9.30am was a town centre Marks & Spencer. Already very, very busy and (is it me?) full of people who think it’s okay to push you out of the way, tut in your ear and be generally grumpy. Nevertheless, the choice was reasonable, there was plenty of stock and we were able to buy the basketful of items we like the M&S way (pudding type things mainly, plus their version of Walnut Whips!).

Then on to Tesco – probably  my most hated supermarket in Swindon – as it seems to attract the most aggressive, anti-social shopper on earth. We just wanted a single item here – a prawn cocktail pot with a chilli flavour that they did about three years ago and which we have searched for ever since with no luck. Still, they did have a toilet so that made up for a lot! But no prawn cocktail, so a quick exit was in order.

Third Sainsbury’s – the venue for the main shop as we’d saved more than £100 in vouchers for the Christmas shop. However, I’ll think twice next year. We arrived here at about 11am, maybe a bit earlier, and the shelves were so empty it was almost unbelievable. I had the last few loose parsnips and carrots. We had to divide our efforts in the fruit & veg sections or we wouldn’t have been able to purchase anything. There were no sprouts (apart from those on a big stalk), no loose red onions, no Maris Pipers (my favourite for roasters). It was staggeringly busy with people in trolley jams all around but I couldn’t work out if it was phenomenal sales or really, really poor planning on the shop’s part. Around every corner as well as a zillion trolley-pushers, there were at least two large carts with frantic staff trying to fill up shelves.  I couldn’t get any dips like potato salad, humus or Waldorf salad – the kind of stuff I love on Boxing Day. And the only fresh herbs available were parsley, probably the only one I didn’t want!

Hence a quick trip to Asda – where there was so much food it was spilling out of the front door. No worries about sprouts here. In fact, I’d be worried about what’s going to be left as it was 5.30pm when we got there and there was stacks and stacks of food. I also picked up my herbs and nutmeg and was able to tick off the final things on my daft list.

I do now feel like I can relax – the food is in, the turkey is fresh and free range (ought to be gold-plated for what it cost) and the gammon looks like it could feed an army – but four kids should make light work of it!

Tomorrow it’s a pantomime of another kind – shorter, more entertaining and a lot cheaper – bring it on Keith Chegwin!


What do you think of self-service at the supermarket? Review my findings….

the hard sell at the orange supermarket.....

Smarter shopping – that was the subject of a blog post I recently wrote for www.birdsontheblog.co.uk where I talked about my strategy for saving money on the weekly shop.
Do have a look – but in a nutshell, it’s now core shopping at Lidl and top-up shopping at the more traditional supermarkets in my home town of Swindon eg. Asda & Sainsbury’s.

Just a few months of shopping in this way is now saving me an average of £80 a month and I’ve got the spreadsheet to prove it.

However, at the weekend, I realised how seduced I’ve been for so long into buying from the Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tescos of this country.
I whizzed into the orange shop to quickly pick up a few things that we needed. As I emerged from my car – I’m accosted by ‘car wash madam?’ at least once – no, no, no.

I don’t know about you but I really object to being harassed every time I go shopping about having my car washed.

If a business is going to run from the orange supermarket’s car park, let me use it if I want to.


Please don’t bother me every time I park up which is probably twice a week. I’m never rude by the way, I just don’t like being sold to in this way.


The green supermarket has a much better system – a corner of the car park is given over to such a business and the motorist chooses to go there. No pressure, and very, very busy at weekends.
Charity collecting by the door I can just about cope with – after all, I’ll give if it’s a charity close to my heart. Generally I’m not accosted by anyone, it’s a matter of choice if I want to make a donation.

But if someone shakes a can under my nose, I’m unlikely to stump up cash.
Once in the shop, I’m no longer seduced by smells, special offers etc – I just head for the aisles which stock what I need. If a special offer applies to those products, brilliant. If not, then so what?
But please don’t try to then harass me to switch my electricity and gas (this has happened to me several times as well). I don’t want to think about that when I’m shopping. So I use this ruse every time – ‘I’m already with you…..’.

The worst and most annoying thing though are the ‘quick’ (and I use the term extremely loosely) self-service check-outs at the orange supermarket.

I must try these at least once a week in the hope that they actually will be quicker. Today I was lucky, in and out in a flash.
Last week, I was not so. And most of my experience has been like this….


Loose peppers caused it to almost explode – that meant searching through menus to find a pepper.

Then there are the bar codes, the machine can’t read. So I’ll type in the mile-long number to get that item through.
Then that awful message ‘unknown item in the bagging area, unknown item in the bagging area’ at 300 decibels so everyone in the store can hear.


I don’t know why they don’t go the whole hog and have a spotlight on the unfortunate shopper who has an ‘unknown item in the bagging area’ so that we can all take a good gawp. 


It would be more honest for the machine to say ‘idiot who cannot use the technology’ just to complete the humiliation. 

Having grappled with the ‘unknown item’ phenomenon (after all, it’s not usually because you’ve been trying to shoplift) you look around for help.


The three ‘hovering’ staff who were there about 30 seconds ago have all gone. There you are, like a lemon, wasting time and negating the effect of having speedier service.
I love the idea of speedy, self-service in the supermarket but I look forward to the day when it works properly.


Until then, when I’m not in a hurry, I’ll take the human being sitting at a till and when I’m in a rush – I’ll try to make do with what’s in the fridge.

Recent Comments