Asda wants to increase the sales area of its Aylesbury store by 25% because aisles are becoming ‘very congested’ during peak times.
The store’s net sales area is limited to 1,000 square metres but Asda bosses have now asked the district council to increase this to 1,250sq metres.
The supermarket giant, which only opened the store at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in November 2013, said the size of the internal sales area is causing a ‘number of operational problems’.
On one occasion this even led to customers being refused entry to the store because it was so busy – an incident ‘unheard of in Asda’s history’.
However, the firm faces a battle to win permission as the council’s own planning strategy states that there should be no more than 1,000 sq metres of retail on the site.
In a statement to the council Asda says: “Since opening the store, Asda has experienced significant in-store congestion die to its restricted sales area which limits the overall amount of shelving that can be provided to display products and produce.
“This means that at peak periods Asda cannot stock enough of each product within the store which leads to the need for shelves to be re-stocked during these busy periods. This is turn results in cages (which are being unpacked) being placed in the middle of aisles which adds to the overall congestion in-store.
“Furthermore, in order to provide more shelving, the aisles’ widths have had to be reduced which limits the space within which shoppers can pass each other. Whilst this would be an issue in any store where people use trolleys, it is a particular problem for this store because there are more wheelchair users within the store due to the store’s proximity to the hospital.
“As a result the store is becoming very congested inside peak times which is not helpful to the consumer or the operator. Just before Christmas there was an incident where Asda had to close the doors of the store because it became so congested inside.
“This meant they could only let customers out and not let any new customers in which is unheard of in Asda’s history.”
It said the larger sales space would enable the store to have more shelving to help ease the need for restocking during busy periods and to replan the store’s layout to reduce congestion.
The supermarket chain said there would be no changes to the external fabric of the building and no need for additional parking as ‘the extra floorspace is not designed to attract more customers but to provide a better shopping environment for customers once they are in store’.
Asda’s original proposal for a store at Stoke Mandeville Hospital submitted in 2009 included 1,815 sq metres of retail space and was refused by the council, as their planning strategy states there should not be a sales area of more than 1,000 sq metres for that area.