Address: 21 Bonehursts Road, Horley
Opening hours: 6-11pm
Price at the pump: Unleaded 121.4p Diesel 123.4p
Larger than your average c-store and no worse off because of it, this store was light and airy. That made it extremely easy to shop - although the wheely basket was not designed for anyone over six foot tall as I had to stoop in order to use it, or just carry it like a regular basket.
Congratulations to Sainsbury’s, which emerged with the cheapest basket of all. A £2.50 price promotion on Ben & Jerry’s was a massive help to open up a gap with rivals, and the Blossom Hill White Zinfandel was replaced by Blossom Hill Rosé, which at £5.50 was the cheapest bottle of everyone.
But it also only sold 80 PG Tips tea bags, which bumped up the price. In terms of a price comparison with a regular Sainsbury’s store, a shopper would pay 13% more for shopping in this convenience store.
There are no wild price differences on any of the products - and that 13% includes paying for a bigger box of tea bags. It’s just a case of a general nudging up of prices, so the pasta was 10p more, the bread 5p more, the own-label lasagne 20p more, and so on.
Sainsbury’s strapline is ‘Live well for less’ so it will be pleased to have emerged with the cheapest basket of the six, with a bill totalling £17.44 - that’s 29% cheaper than M&S. And that’s despite having to pick up an 80 box of PG Tips. We also had to choose a different flavour of Ben & Jerry’s and it only sold Blossom Hill ‘Rosé’.
Staff on the shop floor were friendly and polite, although the cashier was less so - having asked if I wanted a bag she then stacked up my shopping on top of it, giving me a little glare to make it clear she wasn’t going to pack it, unlike every other cashier visited. But she did say a cheery ‘Have a nice day’ after I paid.
Sainsbury’s forecourt stores are also rare in that they offer drivers free air and water. It’s a nice touch, especially if it lures drivers in.
Food to go 1/5
Considering the industry buzz around the potential for food to go, a surprisingly common theme among all stores visited was the lack of anything approaching a modern food to go offer. Waitrose, Morrisons and the Co-op offered hot savouries from a hot cabinet but all three returned underwhelming results.
Like the rest, Sainsbury’s offered a typical range of sandwiches and salads as part of its £3 meal deal. But it did throw up some individuality with this bacon sandwich, which is unashamedly billed as coming with ‘no mayo with tomato sauce on white bread’.
A bogstandard UK-style bacon sarnie isn’t a common sight in other supermarket ranges, which tend to offer a US-style BLT, so I grabbed this. But after eating this flabby, flavourless effort I now understand why they are so rare.