The arrival of Argos in larger Sainsbury’s stores seems to make sense, but are there limits to what can soak up surplus supermarket space?

Good news for Sainsbury’s then and Argos. The former is to host mini versions of the latter’s stores as shop-in-shops in 10 large branches.

It’s a “win win” apparently with Sainsbury’s able to fill some of the excess space in its largest stores and Argos getting access to the very substantial footfall that passes through the doors of a large supermarket.

But hang on. Where is this particular shop-in-supermarket trend headed and is there any point at which a shopper might be inclined to say, I am here to buy food, so what’s this doing here?

Non-food offers

Nothing wrong with a mild diversion that takes you into an Argos when you’re on a food shop mission in Sainsbury’s perhaps, although non-food, whatever the category, has proved problematical in a lot of the largest supermarkets.

But if you’re headed down this particular route, why stop at a catalogue-cum-internet retailer?

What about adding a mix of gardening tools or some spanners and screws to the mix?

Back in the day Sainsbury’s used to own Homebase (it sold it in 2000), so why not have a word and put a few sheds and suchlike into the biggest stores?

And come to that, Homebase now has a fair showing of the Habitat rump in its stores, so why not put a bit of that in as well?

Clothing’s out, obviously, as Sainsbury’s is probably content with its Tu offer and wouldn’t need the additional in-store competition that a branded clothing offer would represent.

That said, how about something slinky in the shape of a piece of Ann Summers action – surely this would fit well after spending time in the packet soup or fruit and veg aisles?

Room to play with

The truth would appear to be that you can in fact put almost anything into a large supermarket, because there’s a lot of space to play around with.

The question however still has to be whether the shopper is ready to shop such exotic add-ons when all they wanted was some food for the next few days?

Isn’t that what people head to a supermarket for? There is certainly a need to re-deploy some of the additional/surplus space that is the result of the big supermarkets space race of a few years ago, but surely there must be limits to what shoppers will put up with/accept as the norm when they head for such emporia.

Might it not be a reasonable idea to focus on food, better displayed? This is what Waitrose does, for the most part, and it seems to work.