Leamington residents have been ‘betrayed’ by Tesco after sudden price rises in a town centre store, the town's MP has said.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western joined campaigners outside Tesco Express in The Parade on Saturday (September 11).
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 10 per cent) – along with bananas by 11p (or 17 per cent) and a can of baked beans by 10p (11 per cent).
He has taken photographs (attached) to highlight these price differences.
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 5 and 10 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 affect 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.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco has said that the rebranding is a result of a change is customers' shopping habits over the past few years and that all of the company's Metro stores are being rebranded "to better reflect this".
They added: "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.”
A spokeswoman also pointed out that the company has recently introduced Clubcard prices across all of its 1,800 express stores offering hundreds of extra savings to its Clubcard customers.
For the company's full statement, click here.