Supermarket giant Tesco is setting up its first checkout-free shop following a successful trial run at head office over the last year.
The chief executive, Ken Murphy, claimed plans were in the early stages, but he’s hoping that the new store can match the appeal of the scan-and-go system used by Amazon in the UK.
He said: “We have a system installed in our Express store in Welwyn Garden City (at head office), and we’ll extend that to another store in the coming weeks and months to check it in a more urban environment.
“It’s been opened about a year now, and it’s working really well… One of the joys of machine learning is it is continuously improving, so we’re feeling confident that we can put it into another store with a higher traffic.”
The news was reported after Tesco revealed that their sales have stayed positive in the 13 weeks to May 29 compared to last year.
This is even though the same period in 2020 saw Brits stripping supermarket shelves in lockdown panic buying,
Ken also asked the UK Government to decide on an agreement with the EU over Northern Ireland Protocol as failing to do so could disrupt supply chains between Ireland and Britain.
He added that he couldn’t see the new free trade deal between the UK and Australia having an affect on Tesco.
Ken explained: “We have really strong supply chain partners and most of those partners are local to us.
“They’re British suppliers or Irish suppliers and therefore we don’t really anticipate any change from our perspective.”
Analysts were initially worried about a drop in sales at supermarket once non-essential retailers, restaurants and bars re-opened after lockdown.
But, the chief executive said that the online shopping boom is ongoing with cooking and baking products still up by 20%.
Ken noted: “The key changes that we’re seeing since the restrictions have been eased is a return to more normalised shopping patterns.
“We’re seeing higher frequency shopping and we’re seeing smaller basket sizes.
“We’re also seeing a shift again towards the weekend days being our peak shopping days in terms of traffic.
“There’s definitely been a shift back to eating out (but) there continues to be a strong demand for eating at home.
“As a consequence, things like beer, wine and spirits have stayed remarkably strong.”
There have been some supply issues in Tesco shops, but Ken claims this is due to demand outstripping supply during the heatwave.
He added: “We’ve already got plans in place to address the shortfall and we’re working closely with our suppliers.”
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The comments come as sales in its UK supermarkets grew 0.5% to £10 billion in the 13 weeks to May 29 – up 9.3% on the same period two years ago before the pandemic.
Its wholesale Booker business saw the strongest growth, with sales up 9.2% to £1.77 billion driven by a 68.1% rise in its catering business.
And, the shift to more households using online grocery services looks set to become permanent, with 1.3 million orders a week being placed, reports SurreyLive.
This means online sales are now up 81.6% on pre-pandemic levels and up 22.2% on the same period last year.