A great new Lidl supermarket has recently opened at Unit 1 Westhampnett Road, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6EX. The tempting merchandise sections inside include a delicatessen, fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery items, general groceries, chilled and frozen dairy, meat and fish, cleaning, beauty, household, homewares and gardening.
Yesterday many enthusiastic consumers approached the entrance and were very confused about how the ‘safe distance queues’ were snaking around the front section of the car park. With no visual reference or signs to help them navigate the residents were guiding eachother to the back of the rectangular shaped line. This began in the corner of the plot and then continued under a canopy and behind some tall cages of potted flowers and leafy plants.
The newcomers were rather gingerly pushing their empty carts along in the middle of those who had already joined the patient rows, just managing to stay around 2 metres from their fellow buyers. Towards the rear of the tarmacked area queuers needed to manually lift the wheels of their heavy metal rollers in order to climb onto the curb and follow the person in front, along in sequence around the site.
Half an hour later, a Lidl marshal lady in a branded sky blue pantsuit called out some instructions in order to corral the waiting throng into the correct procession pathway. She also smiled and confirmed in a positive tone that “ the parking sign which says maximum of 4 hours is not valid at this time.” This meant that nobody had to worry that any delays in passing through the front doors of the shiny modern outlet, would cause an unwanted parking ticket arriving through the post, another day in the near future.
The famous European emporium has sensibly organised the admission process to limit the quantity of their guests to only around thirty people at any one time. It was therefore fairly easy to keep more than a few feet away from others that are not in your household, to try to avoid any unwanted germs from being passed around.
On Thursday March 12th the new store welcomed its first customers through the doors. It was the week that the public realised there would be official government guidance to self isolate at home for those over the age of 70, as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus prevention strategy swung forward into reality.
By opening day the supermarkets were all deluged with customers and buying basic food and household supplies, like loo roll. Stockpiling had become an issue due to the lockdown looming ahead across the United Kingdom. Needless to say the car park was full to bursting when the fully stocked new Lidl opened in the popular coastal city of Chichester.
The shop opening hours were restricted initially to help managers cope with the unexpected influx of visitors but they are now back to normal this week from 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am till 4pm on Sundays. (2)
Lidl was founded in 1930 in Germany by Josef Schwarz. The store appeals to men, women and children of all ages. Around 20 people were recruited locally to form the Lidl customer service team. (1)
The number of visitors at the end of March meant the actual demand was way above estimates and expectations for all the supermarkets through to the first two weeks of April. Lidl decided to hire additional seasonal staff, as did several other retailers. By Easter in mid April most people’s larders and cupboards were full and sales therefore fell comparatively to the previous few weeks. Lidl didn’t need the temporary assistance any more and has let all their extra employees go for the time being.
The old outlet was on the Portfield estate nearby and was much smaller, with a relatively petite car park. A awkwardly sloping entrance and exit to the original premises could easily topple a badly laden trolley.
A new roundabout and car and bicycle park has been built to accommodate the spacious and contemporary market building. A deep white metal roof overhang is supported by slim metal columns, that wrap around the super shed sized ‘white box’. Wide walls of solid tinted glass panels create a striking piece of urban architecture within walking distance of the historic city centre.
Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are available on the ground floor. The spatial layout of the interior is a straightforward design. The till operators were friendly, helpful and welcoming when we proceeded to process, pack and pay for our purchases. The popular chain’s website encourages families to frequent their aisles and features inspirational recipes and ideas to amuse the children as well as tips on Spring cleaning.
It is always challenging to launch a new business and this Lidl franchise has done well to deliver a bright, full, convenient and happy place to select the basic necessities and encompass the complications of preventing the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Overall, despite a bumpy start at Lidl the store has proved a runaway success and has no doubt become a treasured addition to Chichester’s excellent supermarket selection.
‘Chichester’s new Lidl store opens for business’ Sam Morton, Chichester Observer, 13 March 2020 Chicheser Observer, Sam Morton, Lidl Opens
‘Store Opening Hours Update’ Lidl website, 27 April 2020 Lidl website Store Opening Hours