Address: Redkiln Way, Horsham
Opening hours: 24/7
Price at the pump: Unleaded 121.9p Diesel 121.9p
If every Tesco was this busy its balance sheet would be looking a lot perkier. The car park had a dozen spaces but they were all full. Inside, three assistants kept the long queues moving swiftly with polite, helpful service - and the checkout assistant carefully packed everything into a single bag for me.
With the second cheapest basket of all, Tesco can consider itself unlucky not to have scooped the prize for cheapest of the lot - had Sainsbury’s not had a big price promotion on the Ben & Jerry’s it would have been.
It was cheaper than Sainsbury’s on six of the nine items and cheapest overall on the pasta, the crisps and the Coca-Cola. But most interesting is that shopping in a Tesco Express, for this basket at least, was only 3% (or 50p) more expensive than shopping at a regular Tesco, where the same basket would cost £17.78. That 3% is tiny compared with the 27% mark-up at Morrisons Daily.
The prices of the Coca-Cola, the Warburtons loaf and the bottle of Blossom Hill were identical, while the Walkers crisps were a penny cheaper in Tesco Express, at 59p.
But the store itself betrayed some of Tesco’s lingering issues. With Storm Doris in full effect, the shop floor was littered with leaves that had blown in from outside, but that didn’t excuse the ripped and holey lino covering the floor, or the fag butt. A wet floor sign was also plonked in front of the food to go.
Aisles were thin and high. Both the pasta (we bought penne as the spaghetti was sold out) and the tea bags were hard to find - bizarrely for c-store staples both were on the bottom shelf. There was a Costa coffee machine but it was being cleaned - 1pm seemed like curious timing for a store open 24/7.
Overall it felt dark, cramped, tired and cluttered compared with the other stores visited. But it was by far the busiest and the staff were working flat out.
Food to go 3/5
Like the store itself there was nothing special here in terms of food to go. Given the level of footfall it should be a winner but a classic £3 sandwich, snack, drink meal deal is the main event, supplemented by a little sushi, premium sandwiches and salads.
Swerving the sandwiches, this Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad was decent, filled with salty Parmesan, crunchy lettuce, plenty of tender chicken, big fat fusilli pasta and a couple of strips of bacon (a little more bacon would have been nice). The dressing was a typical creamy Caesar dressing and it was okay.
A crouton or two would not have gone amiss but overall this salad was just fine. Although on the packaging front, I’d question why around 20% of the plastic box was considered necessary to house a little fork.