People living in small towns and villages don’t need telling that life is harder without a car. Disconnected, underfunded and unreliable, public transport doesn’t serve rural areas well in my experience.
My home county of Pembrokeshire typifies this picture, although there are efforts to address this. Welsh researchers found this year that some areas don’t even get one bus an hour! Bus stops (reduced by 3%), routes (15% less) and opportunities catch a bus (down 22%) all contracted during the pandemic across Wales.
Explanations for its ‘fall from grace’ are varied. They range from being caught in a sector-wide pincer movement between Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose, to a rise in internet shopping. This feeds sense that shoppers have simply fallen out of love with Britain’s biggest retailer.
It’s still making hundreds of millions in profit each year. But the CEO Dave Lewis probably can’t afford too many hits like this, even though his response to the outbreak of the crisis was swift and impressive.
I’ve worked as a comms person for Tesco, supporting local consultations designed to inform its planning applications for new stores.
I was struck by the dedication and drive of those connected with the business; everyone bought into the vision. We’ve shopped there for years and been devotees of its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which we’ve used to ‘reward’ ourselves with meals at Pizza Express and trips to Longleat.