Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s are continuing to push to open more click & collect sites, data from Barbour ABI has revealed.

The three supermarkets put in 147 planning applications to open new sites between January 2010 and March 2016, 44% of which were made after January 2015.

Asda led the way in click & collect with a total of 78 applications over the full period, 45 of which were made in the last 15 months. The supermarket already has 640 collection points that serve 120,000 customers a week.

Tesco came second with 61 applications, 12 of which were made after January 2015. It has 330 click & collect sites in total. 

And all eight of Sainsbury’s applications were made in the last 15 months.

The data does not capture sites that can open without planning permission, so actual appetite for click & collect points will be higher. For example, Sainsbury’s has opened 100 click & collect sites over the past year, and plans to open a further 100 sites in the next 12 months. Chief executive Mike Coupe has branded the service a “very compelling” offer for customers.

Neither Tesco nor Asda would reveal how many click & collect sites they wanted to open this year, but both said they remained interested in the model. Tesco described click & collect as “an important part of our strategy” and Asda said the model was a core part of its “clear ambition to lead online”. The supermarket was always looking for new formats, such as its automated collection point in Haydock, it added.

Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, said the supermarkets were keen to develop their collection services as an alternative to costly home delivery. “They would love click & collect to grow more substantially and quickly than it is because the reality is it saves them an enormous amount of money,” he explained.

But Black said the model only appealed to a “relatively modest” number of people compared to a full delivery service, which was more convenient and only slightly more expensive. Prices of home delivery would need to rise to make click & collect seem compelling, he said. Black believed this could be the next move for retailers - he hailed Tesco’s recent hike in delivery charges as a sign that “some rationality” was being applied to the pricing system.