multiplesThe Somerfield shop in my village has started to share co-branding with the Co-op, which bought the chain earlier this year. A pair of workers, one wearing Somerfield attire and one Co-op, hug each other in the bottom left hand side. Co-op point of sale now appears instore, clashing slightly with the fixtures.

At the counter I ask the assistant if they are going to have the membership cards. This lady is not hugging anyone. I don’t know, she says, they don’t tell us anything.

Next to this shop we have a One Stop, which is owned by Tesco but not branded in any way, shape or form. They share a car park, which is convenient, and shoppers can quickly walk from one to the other if either is out of stock.

This weekend, I was in need of a certain brand of tonic water. The own label in the Co-op was not what I wanted. One-stop only stocked the slimline version. I asked the assistant there if this was always the case. She fixed me with a steely look and answered me by saying that they only stocked the top selling lines that people actually wanted.

One thing both shops are good at is building up queues. You can usually find the staff who should be on the tills in the stock room or organising the shelves. The good news for independent local shops is that they can beat this level of service. But don’t be complacent about it. The bad news for shoppers in my village is the multiples already control the prime locations.