A superstore comes to Hove, and Hove goes crazy

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The Independent Online

For days on end it had been the talk of le tout Hove, even temporarily supplanting house prices as the staple of dinner party conversation. The new Tesco's was opening next week.

If you lived in Hove you would understand why. The only other supermarket in the area is a rundown Co-op where the average age of the clientele must be 80, to say nothing of the shelf-life of the produce itself. Then again, Tesco evidently wanted Hove as much as Hove wanted Tesco. The new store has been erected on the site of a Church of England primary school. Tesco paid for the school to be razed to the ground and rebuilt less than 200 metres away.

By the time the store opened on Monday morning, 400 shoppers were queuing at the door. Some of them had been there since 5.30am.

They were not to be disappointed. The store sports the latest in retail technology, including self-scanning checkouts where customers are trusted to tot up and pay for their weekly shop themselves, and a rather nice café.

The shoppers may have had a better idea of where things were than the staff but that did not seem to deter anyone. By mid-morning the aisles were so busy it was strictly one-way traffic. Tesco's arrival has forced its competitors to raise their game. The nearest Waitrose, about a mile away on the border between Hove and Brighton, was shut for a week for refurbishment. And as for the old Co-op? Frankly, darling, who cares?

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