The BUZZ

Waitrose – Friend or Foe?

Posted on: 11/11/2009

 

After several planning applications, months of construction work and hundreds of employees, the latest addition to Winchester’s supermarkets has finally been completed: Waitrose at Weeke.  A new source of groceries and delicacies, snacks and ingredients should surely delight the neighbourhood; it’s local, it’s quality and it even contains a new medical practice.

However, even before the building work began there was speculation over how beneficial the shop will be and concerns are raised daily. The most common complaint being traffic issues; there has been a steadily increasing flow of traffic pouring to Waitrose from every corner of town and several neighbours are none too happy. For some it has meant a continuous row of vehicles sitting right outside their driveway and private property has become something of the past. Godwin Close has been hit especially hard with the motor onslaught, cars are now a permanent resident, a very unwelcome permanent resident and unless the car parking spaces are multiplied there isn’t much chance of migration.

Ms. Winn a local resident commented: “It’s not much of a quiet neighbourhood along Godwin close anymore.”

As well as causing a problem for the locals, the traffic has also become problematic for pedestrians. Walking in the area is not as quiet as prior to Waitrose and crossing the roads demands a lot more attention and time; not so helpful when late for an appointment.

Another issue is the sheer size of the supermarket. What used to be a pleasant view for some residents is now a neutral toned block of concrete and wood with no attractive appeal; no agreeable sight. Because of its height the building now casts shadow over the surrounding environment.

As well as casting a physical shadow, Waitrose is casting a financial shadow over the smaller shops, such as the Co-op and Threshers. There is concern over how long those smaller shops will last while Waitrose is thriving and pilfering many loyal customers due to its vast size and wider range of products. There is of course support for these local shops but Waitrose tends to draw on a much larger catchment area, therefore profits may fall for other shops.

Nevertheless, Waitrose has indeed brought many benefits. Although famed for expense, Waitrose has become a cheaper option for collecting the groceries. People now have the choice of walking to pick up anything they require thus reducing petrol costs significantly for many. This could even be classed as an improvement in lifestyle: people opt for a healthier transport alternative.

Waitrose tends to use local producers, therefore reducing the number of miles that food has to travel creating a generally more eco-friendly system, a benefit that attracts many people.

Waitrose, then, brings both benefits and costs to the local community as well as beyond. Ultimately it is a decent and suitable source for shopping. However, it costs rather a lot for some people because of the traffic and position of the supermarket.

What do you think of the new store? Do you think it is more friend or foe? Add your comments below.

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