TESCO has ‘betrayed’ residents after overnight price hikes of nearly 20 per cent on some products at its Leamington town centre store says MP Matt Western.
The Warwick and Leamington MP joined campaigners outside Tesco Express in The Parade.
They have been fighting price hikes caused by the firm’s decision to designate the store as a Tesco Express after it lost its Metro status.
Mr Western said the price of a pint of milk when compared to the Emscote Road superstore in Warwick has increased by 5p (or ten per cent) – along with bananas by 11p (or 17 per cent) and a can of baked beans by 10p (11 per cent).
The Express stores are usually smaller and with higher prices than Tesco’s larger supermarkets or its Metro stores – which the firm has now discontinued across the UK.
Mr Western helped promote the campaigners’ petition which has just reached 1,200 signatures.
He said: “At a time when inflation is rising, the government has raised National Insurance tax for working people, and when the Universal Credit benefit £20 uplift is set to be cut, introducing such significant price increases will see many Leamington residents unable to shop in Tesco any longer.
“It will be a severe blow to the more disadvantaged in our community – including the elderly and those with limited mobility.
“Many previously regular customers have written to me dismayed to see prices rise and a reduction in the range of goods available.
“Most products appear to be between five and ten per cent higher than they are in the Warwick superstore.
“In an era when business ethics are more important than ever before, it looks like Tesco has betrayed Leamington residents – who are now left with no affordable town centre alternative.”
The campaigners estimate footfall to the store could already have dropped by up to 20 per cent – which they argue will hit Tesco’s sales and the commercial viability of the store.
Mr Western says it is evidence that difficult times lie ahead with Warwick and Leamington high streets suffering due to the pandemic, high rents, business rates and the shifting business models of major firms.
Lead campaigner Peter Glanfield said: “I simply cannot believe that Tesco really wants to charge higher prices to those who do not have a car and have to walk to their nearest store.
“Many are vulnerable or have limited travel options when they travel to buy their food.
“And in this age people who walk to the shops help the UK effort to reduce emissions.”
Tesco told The Observer the decision reflected a change in shopping habits.
A spokesperson said: “Over the last few years, we have seen our customers’ shopping habits change and we have taken the decision to re-brand all of our Metro stores to better reflect this.
“Our Metro format was originally designed for larger, weekly shops, but today nearly 70 per cent of customers use them as convenience stores, buying food for that day so the majority of them will be rebranded as Express stores.”