Was Dave Lewis watching Dispatches: Supermarket Price Wars (C4, 28 July, 8pm)? The new Tesco CEO could have done worse than to catch this canter through the reasons you might not want to be running one of the big four. From the price war and dodgy promos to copycat products and the rise of the discounters, it ticked off at speed the current themes of the grocery industry.
Breathless presenter Harry Wallop challenged Sam and Sasha - “Britain’s savviest shoppers” - to shop for a basket of 33 items as cheaply as possible (where did you come up with that number, Harry?) These two were surely a supermarket CEO’s vision of nightmare consumers: Sam used a price-comparison app to decide where to go before even stepping inside a store; Sasha said she had all the prices in her head (Sam won - by 12p).
The programme tap-danced around the idea that power has shifted to the customer, with supermarkets even subsidising online deliveries in a craven attempt to retain loyalty.
But then there was the case of Brixham, where residents were cheesed off that a planned Tesco development bringing shops, facilities and flats had become a victim of the retailer’s cooling enthusiasm for the space race. Here was a reverse of the so-called ‘Tesco tax’: locals desperate for one of the big four to ride into town. The customers didn’t seem particularly powerful here - or in the other towns cited by Wallop as having lost a juicy new supermarket development. If Dave was still watching, he might have thrown his hands up in despair. You can’t please all the people all of the time…