CUSTOMERS poured through the doors as supermarket giant Tesco opened its South Road store in Lerwick for the first time on Monday morning.
Most consumers appeared to be pleased at the choice and price of the goods on offer and few seemed worried about concerns raised by local retailers’ organisations.
Tesco is selling 10,000 different products in the shop, which it hopes to expand by 38 per cent later this year, and many shoppers welcomed the prospect of a larger store.
The South Road store was officially opened by deli worker Lorna Coutts, a member of staff who has worked at the store under all its previous incarnations, going back 36 years to when it was run by Templetons on Commercial Street, at what is now Boots the Chemist.
Walls teenager Willem Cluness, 16, said he thought the refurbished store was an improvement on Somerfield because the prices were lower and there was more variety. “But Tesco could do more to improve the view that they are unethical,” he said. “This would encourage more locals to come and shop here.”
Retired modern studies teacher Gordon Johnston, 62, of Cunningsburgh, said he welcomed Tesco “if they offer cheaper prices”. He understood that there were “mixed views” about the company and that local businesses were concerned at the possible impact but “at the end of the day customers want cheaper prices”.
Douglas Grant, 58, from Quarff, said he had been looking forward to the supermarket coming and that he didn’t feel the impact would be too great as it was just replacing Somerfield. “The Co-op has been really very good, I always find the staff really pleasant,” he said. “If an extension comes, I think it will probably be welcomed – more choice and more competition locally.”
Councillor and shopkeeper Caroline Miller said she had a “mixture” of opinions about Tesco arriving in Shetland, and that she was concerned at the possible impact the company’s planned extension would have.
Ms Miller said: “I’m glad to see more variety and cheaper prices. However, I have concerns about the effect the planned extension will have on local shops.”
Over at the Co-op’s Holmsgarth Road store, the rush of the past nine weeks was well and truly over, with a handful of shoppers wandering around blissfully quiet aisles on Monday morning. One woman, who did not want to be named, said it was “fine” that Tesco had moved into the islands but she was shopping in the Co-op this week because she expected the newly-opened store to be “a bit busy”.
Sandwick woman Karen Spiers said she was not sure whether she would be shopping at Tesco at all because they are “a very unethical company”. “Had it been another supermarket [group] then I would have been okay with it,” she said.
Another Co-op shopper, Bressay man Bill Morris, welcomed Tesco’s arrival. “Prices in Shetland local shops are too high,” he said, adding that the proposed extension would create competition for those same shops.