The Asda Wal-Mart promise: 165 types of curtain pole

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The Independent Online

The indecisive have always been the bane of anyone who has tried to whizz round a supermarket with a trolley. They stand blocking the aisles, index finger in mouth, as they try to decide between two brands of potted meat.

The indecisive have always been the bane of anyone who has tried to whizz round a supermarket with a trolley. They stand blocking the aisles, index finger in mouth, as they try to decide between two brands of potted meat.

Which is why shoppers at the Asda Wal-Mart Supercentre in Bristol will find super-wide aisles. For this US-style, one-stop store presents a living hell for those with decision-making difficulties.

It sells 42 different types of televisions, 24 mini-music systems, 66 styles of duvet covers, 11 colas, and a mind-boggling (and surely unnecessary) 165 types of curtain poles.

What will also cause congestion in the aisles when the store opens fully on Monday will be those who have stopped dead in their tracks at the prices, with savings of up to 60 per cent on a vast range of products.

Customers can pick up a28-inch Philips widescreen television for £349, a saving of £100 compared to Currys. Bottles of wine (admittedly hock) start at £1.94, and D&G sunglasses cost £59.99 rather than £100 at Boots. Top ten paperbacks are being sold at £3.84 instead of £5.99 or £6.99, and customers will only have to pay £4.88 for their 24-exposure film to be developed in an hour, rather than £6.49 at Boots.

Christine Watts, corporate affairs director for Asda, said: "Customers will get an incredible range that they won't see anywhere else in Britain at the best possible prices, and that includes everything from bicycles, to baby seats, to beluga, to biscuits, to bikinis."

As well as an electronics department that stocks 70 per cent of the Currys range, the store, which is expected to attract 50,000 shoppers a week, also boasts a DIY department with 1,400 tools, gadgets and paints; a sports area selling gym equipment and branded clothing; must-have toys such at Poochie dogs; and an optician offering tests and contact-lens fittings.

The shop - which is open 24 hours a day - is the size of a football pitch with 1,000 parking places and 60 checkouts. It has even recruited a team of scooter-riding helpers to come to the rescue of the mentally, and physically exhausted. Customers who turn up at the till and suddenly realise they have forgotten the one item they came for in the first place are able to call on the "service squad" to fetch it.

One of the squad, Natasha Morgan, 19, from Almonsbury, coming to a perfect stop on her silver two-wheeler, said: "They're absolutely brilliant. It's a hell of a lot quicker and it keeps the customers a lot happier as well.

"The most common thing they forget is a bag of sugar. I haven't had any accidents yet - there's a brake on the back for when you're going round corners."

While the store will undoubtedly save customers time and money, this American dream isn't, however everyone's cup of tea.

Looking dazed at the wall of televisions on offer, Geoffrey Holmes, 73, from Little Stoke five miles away, wrinkles up his nose. "It's too big for me. You've got to walk around so much. Sainsbury's is just about the right size but the prices are too high."

Asda Wal-Mart may do well to extend its scooter service to offering lifts to pensioners.

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