ASDA .v. Morrisons


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Why I'll still be shopping at ASDA


  1. Morrisons feels like prison, not a supermarket.
  2. Ted greets you at the door of ASDA, Morrisons has security guards.
  3. At Morrisons I can't maneuver our people carrier out of family spaces without a 3 point turn.
  4. The lighting in ASDA is bright and conducive to happy shopping; lighting at Morrisons is depressing.
  5. The restaurant at ASDA is non-smoking!
  6. There's little to choose from on prices: some things are cheaper at one store than the other.

Web Sites

ASDA (Colne)

Morrisons (Nelson)

Boundary Mill (Colne)

Costco (Trafford Park) - site down!

Sainsbury's (Burnley)

Tesco's (Blackburn)

Wal-Mart (USA...)

Recently we saw the opening, with much hullabaloo (though nothing compared to US style openings!), of the 100th1 Morrisons Supermarket close to Nelson center.

What a great opportunity for our community to have such facilities close to the town center.  Perhaps Morrisons would be able to correct some of the glaring disadvantages of shopping at ASDA, our closest large supermarket lying between Nelson & Colne.  The disadvantages I speak of are the appalling parking problems caused by Boundary Mill traffic and the dreadful smell of rotting meat that emanates from Woodhead Brothers slaughterhouse next door.

We, as a family (2 adults, 4 children) have shopped at ASDA for a number of years now, sometimes varying farther a field to Tesco's (Blackburn), Sainsbury's (Burnley) and Morrisons (Skipton) and more often these days to Costco (Trafford Park).  We were open to a change to shop at a closer facility: Morrisons at Nelson.

Since the opening day (which we attended en masse) we have shopped at Morrisons a handful of times.  We hardly ever go back there.

The problem with Morrisons is that it gives the impression of being more like a prison than a supermarket.  It starts with the entrance to the site - a barrier with a guard house.  Not only does this tell us something about Morrisons approach but it's a damned pain on traffic flow.  After you get past the entrance (even though it's often unmanned/inactive during the week it still creates a bad first impression) and have maneuvered the sharp right turn into the parent parking it's time to find a trolley.  Hmm, now I have to run inside and get a 1 coin (change from my tenner) to feed the trolley - yet another sign that Morrisons just don't trust their customers2.  Next you are greeted at the revolving door (which you've struggled through with the trolley) not by the ever smiling Ted, as we are at ASDA, but an unsmiling, uniformed security guard (or two).

OK, we've passed security clearance and entered the store - let's get a bite to eat before filling the trolley.  Cough, cough, wheeze - I can't believe that they still allow smoking in restaurants in this country!  Most other supermarkets have banned smoking throughout their stores including (especially!) the restaurants: not Morrisons.

OK, so we don't eat there - off we go shopping.  Something's not quite right here.  Here I am pushing the trolley around, kids bouncing off the walls and ceiling, and it's depressing: not the screaming kids, but the ambience of the store.  There's something not quite right and I think it's the level (and/or color temperature) of the lighting.  In ASDA the lights are bright and inviting; it's like daylight and sun in the store.  Morrisons looks like it's lit by candles!

As we proceed around the store we check the prices of goods, as one does.  Well, some things are cheaper than the other stores, but others are more expensive, or the same price.  No surprises there I guess.  On the whole our shopping trolley comes to about the same as it does at ASDA, if anything it's slightly more expensive.  One day we'll conduct a proper study, at the moment this is based on "feel" rather than hard facts.  One thing that Morrisons does win out over ASDA is in their bakery department; a much more varied and interesting selection.

The shopping is done.  Out we go, past security, to fight with the revolving door again, into the car park.  Goods packed, trolley returned, ransom refunded, we venture off to the exit.  Oh dear, who put that guard house in the way?  It's impossible to get a people carrier out past the guard house without doing a 3-point (at least) turn in the exit lane - a nightmare on a Saturday lunchtime!

It was quickly back to ASDA for us.  The parking is getting a little better there as Boundary Mill have bought the land across Corporation St.  The smell of the abattoir is still disturbing and off-putting at times.  Still, who can prefer the passage through security control as opposed to being greeted by Ted and his friends?  ASDA invite you in like welcome friends.  Morrisons are doing you a favor letting you in.

Pause for thought:  Morrisons is not alone in this overt approach to "shrinkage reduction" (stopping shop lifting) - Costco is even worse, they check your trolley on the way out!  I wonder just how cost-effective these measures are in the long term.  As online shopping becomes embedded in society, bricks & mortar stores are going to have to try really hard to make the shopping experience rewarding - heavy security doesn't achieve this.  (BTW, obviously Morrisons aren't quite up to speed on web sites yet judging from their offering - very basic site, some graphics not working, no contact email addresses, etc..)

Final note:  Watch out Morrisons... Wal-Mart is a comin'!


1 - Why is it store #104, when it's advertised as the 100th store?

2 - Costco used to have a 1 trolley ransom in the UK (however, not in any US stores that I've been to), but after much customer complaint they have removed these devices, or are gradually retiring them.


Andrew Stringer, November 1999 (who has no connection with any of the companies listed here, except as a shopper.)



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