Does the world need a lower-than-low-price grocer?
In recent years, grocers — from mainstream chains like Kroger to extreme discounters such as Aldi — have picked up on fresh and organic food trends. One new grocer in the U.K., however, isn’t concerning itself with making room for fresh vegetables or anything of the sort. The store, called easyFoodstore, makes no apologies about being a budget grocer, with ultra-low prices and the questionably healthy product assortment that entails.
CBS News reported that easyFoodstore is the brainchild of billionaire Stelios Haji-Ionnanou, who founded the EasyJet budget airline. Mr. Haji-Ionnanou recently opened the store in northwest London with the tagline, “No expensive brands. Just food honestly priced.” Mr. Haji-Ionannou described the store as being targeted at the “unwaged and low-waged” shopper and intends to serve a space below the niche that chains, including Aldi and Lidl, have carved out.
As part of the store’s opening promotion, easyFoodstore announced that for the month of February it would be offering products such as canned sardines, soups and pasta for 25p (the U.K. equivalent of 36 cents). The Telegraph reported that the prices will likely rise to around 50p at the end of February. The store, according to the report, stocks 76 items.
The concept — or at least the low price promotion — appears to be quite popular already. The Telegraph reported that on February 3, shortly after the store’s grand opening, the store was forced to close entirely to restock. Budget shoppers had cleared off the shelves entirely.
A Telegraph video report described the easyFoodstore shopping experience as “chaotic but cheap.” Shoppers in the picked-over store praised the deals in the context of their own difficult economic situations.
But not everyone is thrilled about Mr. Haji-Ionannou’s focus on ultra-low price.
An opinion piece in The Guardian posited that the low food quality has significant social costs, such as negatively affecting both public health and the climate.
The Guardian article states that the store layout “elevates utilitarianism and cheerlessness to an art form,” and describes it as having a sense of “resigned miserableness.”
- EasyJet owner launches ultra-low budget grocery in U.K. – CBS News
- Sir Stelios’ easyFoodstore shuts for the day to restock shelves – Telegraph
- What’s it like to shop at Stelios’ easyFoodstore? Chaotic but cheap – Telegraph
- Cheap and easy food? Think about the true cost – The Guardian
Could a store like easyFoodstore fill a gap opened by Aldi and other low-price grocers that are moving upscale? Can conventional grocers meet the needs of the “unwaged and low-waged” shoppers Haji-Ionannou is targeting with easyFoodstore?