The one thing York really needs – another supermarket

Thank you Sainsbury's for this glorious new shopping dawn
Thank you Sainsbury's for this glorious new shopping dawn

Thank you Sainsbury’s for this glorious new shopping dawn – an artist’s impression of the new store on Hull Road

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Miles On Monday

York writer Miles Salter pens an ironic letter to the boss of Sainsbury’s

Dear Justin King,

Thanks very much for your lovely leaflet Have Your Say, about the proposed new site for a Sainsbury’s shop in York. I must say, the production values on your publicity material are second to none. You are obviously taking this new site development seriously.

I for one would be delighted if a new Sainsbury’s were to open on my doorstep. There certainly aren’t enough of them at the moment.

Only four, in fact, including larger sites in Foss Bank, Monks Cross and smaller stores in Haxby and Fulford Road.

But, as I am sure you will agree, it’s vitally important that York has a fifth Sainsbury’s. Us consumers simply can’t get enough choice, you know!

And then there is the plethora of Tescos, Asdas, Waitroses and others that are all over York. We already have multiple places to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk.

But a few more wouldn’t hurt, especially for those poor folk in Elvington, who can’t even see a supermarket from their lovely location.

And so what if a few local businesses get blown out of the water? That chap who runs the petrol stations near the proposed site, the one with the Daleks on – what is he making a fuss about?

Perhaps he is worried that his business and staff will all vanish when the all conquering Sainsbury’s arrives. He needs to get a life!

Good for the planet

I am not one of those who links consumerism to climate change. Oh no.

The dreadful floods that we have had in the UK recently are, in my view, nothing but an unusually strong deluge, and there is no way you could link our love of cars and shopping and flying in aeroplanes for four day excursions in Europe to greenhouse gases, rising temperatures or freak weather events. We can’t allow ecology to get in the way of shopping.

After all, what else is there? Future generations must understand the importance of business. They want to enjoy life, don’t they?

If it’s going to be wetter in the future, then they need to make sure they wear some decent woollies. And as for this nonsense about diminishing food supplies in the years to come, don’t make me laugh!

And besides, as you make clear in your lovely leaflet, in the new store you will be introducing “energy saving features including rainwater harvesting and a biomass boiler”. Well, that will certainly help to offset the vast consumption of petrol, food and plastic that your new store will result in.

And I must say, I do like the picture of the two girls skipping down one of your aisles on a pair of space hoppers! Lovely. They certainly do look like “Active Kids” to me.

Never enough

Of course, not everybody is as keen as me on a new Sainsbury’s. A friend of mine the other day pointed out that your annual profits are around £800 million a year.

Surely, he said, Sainsbury’s feel that this is plenty, and don’t want even more? It’s nothing, he said, but capitalist greed.

What we need, he said, is a new spirit of “enoughness” in the world, a calm acceptance that the world is not an inexhaustible pot of riches. That way, he said, there will be enough for future generations.

Why don’t Sainsbury’s put something back into York, he suggested: buy the B&Q site, and turn into a community centre, with sports and arts activities for all ages?

An investment of say, £2 million, could mean Sainsbury’s could do something radical in York, with benefits to a wide variety of people.

I quite liked his idea, but said there was nothing more beneficial than yet another delicatessen counter to sell cheese and olives.

I understand you are stepping down in July. Apparently you have been hugely successful with your “local” branches which offer convenience to people.

I am sure you are proud of what you’ve achieved. I wish you a very happy retirement, and hope that it goes swimmingly. I look forward to my cheese.

Many thanks,

Miles Salter