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Sainsbury’s Follows Supermarket Rivals and Closes Butcher, Fishmonger, and Deli Counters

Thousands of people will be out of work thanks to the change

A customer in a mask stands outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket with a trolley
The butcher, fishmonger, and deli counter will be no more
Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images

Sainsbury’s follows Asda in cutting meat, fish, and deli counters

Huge, orange supermarket Sainsbury’s will put 3,500 staff out of work by closing its meat, fish, and deli counters alongside 120 Argos stores — it bought the famed catalogue chain in 2016. The counter closure follows Asda and Tesco’s move to do the same in January this year; while the former replaced them with ready-to-eat brand partnerships, Sainsbury’s is yet to indicate whether it will replace its own, according to BBC News.

Chief executive Simon Roberts says the closure of the counters is in anticipation of “a number of shifts in our industry,” which amounts to a pincer movement of declining sales and insufficient investment in the staff training to raise those sales back up. While the novel coronavirus pandemic has seen some independent butchers, fishmongers, and bakers be able to take advantage of an initial capacity failure — the flour wars, the delivery slots running out — general behavioural trends suggest that supermarket customers remain averse to meat and fish counters.

The Grocer reports a general decline of around 15 percent in butcher counter sales from 2018 to 2020 across supermarkets. As a result, butcher counters and fishmongers have lost the butchering and fish ... mongering which add theatre and process; many have become lines of pre-packaged goods just like a supermarket aisle, just with a staff member behind them whose expertise supermarkets now consider surplus to requirements. [BBC]

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