By Ben Sillitoe - 11:40AM - Wed 2nd February 2011
The People’s Supermarket, the innovative London-based convenience store run on cooperative values, has seen shoppers’ average spend significantly increase in recent months.
As nationwide surveys such as the Asda Income Tracker show that UK consumers have less disposable income each month, the small membership retailer in picturesque Bloomsbury is showing encouraging signs for the future.
Kate Bull, the former Marks & Spencer commercial executive and co-founder of The People’s Supermarket alongside chef Arthur Potts Dawson, told Retail Gazette: “Average spend per person has grown from £3 to £5 in recent months.
“On a Saturday - our busiest day - this has grown to just under £10.”
Of course the figures are small compared to the major supermarkets but they do suggest that the store is drawing a small percentage of locals away from the top grocers at weekends.
However, much like these multiple retailers, things have been far from plain sailing of late.
“It’s been hard work and, like many of the bigger retailers, we had a poor December. Since Christmas, we’ve returned to taking just over £15,000 a week though, which is an encouraging sign,” Bull added.
Functioning with an intriguing 400-strong membership workforce, consisting primarily of local volunteers who offer their time for free, The People’s Supermarket’s development in the year ahead will be interesting.
Channel 4 is running a four-episode series about Dawson and Bull’s store, beginning on Sunday, which will give television viewers an insight into the idea behind the concept and how it has performed since opening in the summer of 2010.
The series will highlight how the organisation’s membership base - which has almost doubled since Retail Gazette interviewed Bull last September - works and how in-store ready meals and locally-sourced food is prepared for selling.
What is unique about the project, which is here to stay for the foreseeable future due to the ten-year lease held on its Conduit Street premises, is that only one full-time Duty Manager (DM) and four part-time DMs are employed.
Three sales assistants, who were part of the government’s Future Jobs Fund, are set to be recruited in due course, but the vast majority of members are working for free.
Although Bull is a little nervous about the public’s reaction to Channel 4’s show, she is clear about her goals for the store.
“We are looking at ways in which we can drive value, and we are doing this through a number of own-branded People’s Products,” she explained.
“My aim is to make The People’s Supermarket commercially sustainable, and we are excited about the future.”