THE PRICE of a standard shopping basket at the rebranded Tesco store in Leamington town centre have risen by nearly a quarter claim campaigners.
They have been protesting since the supermarket giant’s decision to designate the Parade store as a Tesco Express after it lost its Metro status in July.
Branches under the ‘Express’ brand typically include prices to reflect ‘convenience store’ style shopping where customers buy goods on an as and when needed basis rather than a full weekly shop.
The decision has angered many who argue the higher prices will hit shoppers who cannot easily get to larger supermarkets in the area.
And more recently, Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has accused Tesco bosses of ‘price gouging’.
He said he paid nearly 23 per cent more for an identical shopping basket in Tesco in the Parade than he did at the Emscote Road superstore in Warwick – and has the receipts to prove it.
Nearly 1,300 people have signed a petition against price hikes caused by the firm’s decision.
Mr Western said: “Most prices have been hiked by about ten to 20 per cent.
“But then certain products have increased even more than this – including the bottle of red wine I bought which cost 60 per cent more than in Warwick.
“And as there is no affordable town centre alternative it looks as though the company is cashing in on a captive audience – price gouging in pursuit of higher profits.
“Not to mention that the alteration comes amid a well-publicised cost of living crisis – with the price of energy, fuel, and train fares on the up, inflation soon to rise to above four per cent, a National Insurance increase and the cutting of the £20 Universal Credit uplift which threatens to condemn more than 500,000 people to poverty.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the change could not have come at a worse time.”
He added Tesco had recently seen its sales and profits grow much faster than anticipated and had no excuse to be ‘exploiting’ elderly and shoppers without their own transport.
Lead campaigner Peter Glanfield added: “The price hikes are a simple case of cynical exploitation of Tesco’s position in Leamington town centre.
“It is unnecessary, a disgrace and motivated only by greed.
“Tesco must now designate the shop a superstore and stop the continuing pain felt by their customer base.”
In response to Mr Western’s letter to Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy, a spokesman said Metro stores across the UK had been evaluated on how customers were using the store, and the change to the Parade branch ‘better reflected the way the store was being used’ – with most customers doing a convenience shop rather than a large weekly shop.
He added: “In time, the format change will lead to updates to the range, layout and services offered within the store to better reflect the shopping habits of our customers.
“We work hard to ensure our customers get great value at Tesco, whether they shop with us online, in a large store, or in an Express store. There are some operational differences between an Express store and the old Metro model, and our Express stores are extremely competitive compared to many other convenience stores.”