Tesco boss Dave Lewis must have wished a few times in the last few months that he could call on some help from above - but his decision to parachute in some of Santa’s little helpers over the Christmas rush has got at least one analyst swept up in the Christmas spirit.
The Grocer revealed yesterday that Lewis had dispatched packers to 400 of its stores to help at the till, push trolleys to the car and generally help hard-pressed shoppers in their hour of need.
Cynics would argue that the teams of between six to nine helpers - however cheery they may be - might have their work cut out to make too much of a difference, especially if they are sent off to find obscure items stuck at the back of aisle z.
But Shore Capital’s Clive Black reckons the move could spell festive trouble for the discounters.
Black suggests that Tesco’s move, which comes following news that 6,000 extra staff have been recruited by Lewis since October to beef up service, may just provide a stark comparison to the service received at the “limited assortment discounters (LADs) stores Aldi and Lidl.
“We can see scope for considerable chaos” warns Black, suggesting that without such space in store and in their car parks, there is the potential for ‘Black Friday-esque’ scenes.
“As tempers fray in the LADs small car parks, folk fight over the last of the fresh turkey, caviar and lobster, and long queues increase the tut and puff quotient,“ he muses.
Black contrasts this vision of chaos with the serene picture at his local Tesco store.
“At Bidston Moss there was a very friendly lady offering pizza tasting as I rushed to buy a bottle of Bushmills for my daughter’s retiring art teacher.”
And he suggests that having upped the ante with their all-conquering rise, the LADs will be under the spotlight more than before and “may be hoping that everyone doesn’t turn up for Christmas; Jools Holland may not have such a smug smile next year.”
The Grocer can’t help but think that Tesco might like a bit of this problem. Coping with the sheer volume of consumers at the till has not been one of the problems Lewis has had to tackle as yet and one suspects that Lidl and Aldi won’t fret too much to see queues of cars heading their way.
Still, whoever proves to be the festive winner, surely Black is being naïve. To even dream that Holland’s smug smile could ever disappear, that is going too far.