The spirit of Christmas not to be found at Waitrose Cambridge

Christmas Eve at Waitrose Cambridge

It’s a long-standing tradition for supermarkets across the country to play their part in spreading a bit of Christmas cheer by clearing their food stocks just before they close on Christmas Eve, slicing turkey prices and other Christmas dinner essentials.

So like every year for the past 8 years, I turn up at the Waitrose Cambridge store in Trumpington a couple of hours before the store closes to perform my regular shopping and wait to grab some last minute reductions.

The last hour comes. Dozens of customers are socialising by the turkey shelf whilst waiting for a staff member to come and slash the prices down. We’re down to the last half hour and the cheery mood is soured by puzzlement. The store is now shutting for Christmas but still no price reductions.

I see customers leaving upset, some without their turkeys. Meanwhile, I notice the unsold turkeys being piled into a trolley and taken away in the store room – come on killjoy Waitrose!

If you were looking for a bit of Christmas spirit that day, it was certainly not to be found at Waitrose Cambridge this Christmas.

Luckily, Tesco was still open, so I drove there and managed to pick up a half price turkey as well as half price top quality beef before the store closed. On our way out, the store manager stood at the door wishing customers a merry Christmas. All I saw at Waitrose’s exit doors was a security guard…

Mess with good old British traditions at your perils

If the store manager decided to change the store’s policy on Christmas reductions, then a little communication would have been helpful. The store manager could have assumed her decision and communicate her decision to avoid customers waiting around for nothing and allowing them to make the decision to go shop somewhere else before other stores shut. I’m sure their PR office could have come up with a vaguely palatable message to minimise the damage.

Admittedly, the store’s policy remains pure madness. By going against this decade-long tradition, Waitrose sent an unequivocal message to its customers which was interpreted as “Sorry, Waitrose Cambridge is solely focused on maximising profits this year – Christmas Eve or not.”

Christmas is about sharing, and especially sharing food with your family, friends, neighbours, customers. Waitrose Cambridge did the exact opposite: it decided that it would hoard the food in its stock room.

Would it really have cost the store that much to have shown a bit of kindness on Christmas Eve?

The store manager’s ‘no reduction’ policy has cost the store some of its most loyal customers. I for one will start making my weekly shop somewhere else from the New Year.

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