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Food Shopping: Village Shops and Supermarkets

Pauline Kenny

Shopping for food in England is similar to how we shop in the US. They have small, locally owned stores, large supermarkets, specialty stores, bakeries, butchers, etc.

Food Shopping in the Towns and Villages

The following shops are found in most good sized villages.

Small Supermarkets: Most villages have small local shops. Despar (called "Spar" in Italy) is a chain of small supermarkets that you find in some towns. Other towns have locally owned shops or a different chain. These small supermarkets have a good selection and some will carry organic products.

Greengrocers: This is a fruit and vegetable store, but they are disappearing from many towns and being replaced by produce sections in the smaller supermarkets.

Newsagent: The Newsagent store will sell newspapers and magazines. We always read The Guardian in England, but several other national papers are available (The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Mirror, etc.). Cotswolds Life is a good monthly magazine for the Cotswolds area. The newsagent also sells cigarettes, some books, tourist books, postcards, etc.

Chemist: This is what we call the Pharmacy or Drug Store.

Butcher: Most towns will have a butcher selling fresh meats.

Bakery: Most towns will have a small bakery selling fresh breads, pastries and sandwiches.

Food Shopping - Larger Supermarkets

Larger towns will have a large supermarket, usually on the outskirts, but sometimes right in the town center. These are chain stores and the most common ones are:

  • Tesco
  • ASDA's
  • Sainsbury's
  • Waitrose

Waitrose superstore in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (Cotswolds)

Road signs and maps will list "Superstore" to point to a supermarket or other large store (like electronics or building supplies - DIY).

These supermarkets are setup just like in North America with large parking lots, free shopping carts outside the store. The only difference is that you bag your own groceries and even this is changing (I saw a commercial for Tesco saying they are bagging groceries).

Payment by Credit Card

The larger supermarkets take credit cards.

Opening Hours

Waitrose Opening Hours

These supermarkets are usually open Monday through Saturday, all day long and into the evening. They are usually open on Sundays and Bank Holidays, but with reduced hours. For example, the Waitrose in Salisbury is open Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 8:00pm; Friday, 8:30am to 9:00pm; Saturday, 8:00am to 8:00pm; Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm.


Waitrose is a chain of more upscale supermarkets (Waitrose is my favorite). They sell organic foods and produce and have great prepared foods (see my page about Prepared Foods in the Food/Restaurants section). Many also have attached Home Furnishing stores and a good restaurant.


Tesco is the most popular supermarket (has the largest market share). They have good prices and a good selection of organic produce and dairy products. They also offer prepared foods.

Marks and Spencer

M & S is a popular clothing store, but some of them have food sections with a large prepared foods area (also called Marks and Sparks).

Grocery Prices

Here are some sample prices from Waitrose, May 2005.

£3.14 six 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water (Highland Spring from Scotland)
£0.89 San Pellegrino sparkling
£0.95 500g organic whole wheat fusilli pasta from Italy
£1.09 loaf of organic wheat bread (brown bread)
£3.79/kg organic broccoli
£1.99 bag of seven organic apples
£1.59 four rolls toilet paper
£1.20 Saturday Guardian newspaper (this is the weekend paper)
£2.25 prepared meal - vegetable curry (for two)
£1.29 prepared meal - pilau rice (for two)
£2.69 prepared meal - organic vegetable soup (for two)


www.waitrose.com: Waitrose supermarkets

www.waitrose.com/about/findyourlocalwaitrose.asp: Waitrose store locator

www.marksandspencer.com: Marks and Spencer (click Store Finder at the bottom of the page)

www.tesco.com: Tesco supermarkets

www.tesco.com/storelocator/: Tesco store locator

www.sainsbury.co.uk: Sainsbury's supermarkets

www.sainsburys.co.uk/sol/storelocator/storelocator_landing.jsp: Sainsbury's store locator

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