Do you know that you can now buy your sofa at Tesco? While I, personally, need a bit more convincing about spending my hard-earned cash on a velvet two-seater (partly because I am a terrible procrastinator), I am currently all over this industrial-style bench and table and bookcase. This vintage-style mirror is a bargain at £15. And I saw this painted velvet cushion at the press reveal and it’s very, very pretty.
Maybe it’s because retail is having a tough time of it recently, or maybe it’s because supermarkets have seen a loophole in their neverending march towards retail domination, but many of the big chains are really raising their game when it comes to homeware. This is not a new thing, of course; Asda has been selling homey bits for nigh-on 20 years, but whereas once it was the place where you could pick up some decent white china and saucepans, now it’s sofas, coffee tables, beds, sideboards – the lot. Asda isn't the only brand to do this either; Tesco is hot on its heels, and quality isn’t being compromised on (although important to note that, as with everything in this life, if something is suspiciously cheap, you should be suspicious.).
There are some great buys to be snapped up on the aisles. Plus, if you don’t need a certain something straight away, and you are able to wait and pounce, you’ll find some brilliant flash discounts, like this Denby pottery currently on offer at Tesco for example. Admittedly, the retail experience may not always be perfect, but it’s worth remembering that these giants have financial heft behind them, so if you’re looking for the best possible price, they are good places to check out if you’re doing a comparison.
It’s also early days for some brands; Sainsbury’s Home launched a new site this summer, extending its offering, plus when the supermarket bought Home Retail Group last year, it also added Habitat and Argos to its portfolio. This has led to lots of Habitat and Argos concessions popping up within its 100 superstores and it looks like it’s only a matter of time before we see Sainsbury’s Home teaming with both of these brands to make one big homeware offering. Watch this space…
RANGE: Large range of everything, from beds and bedlinen to sofas and crockery.
GOOD FOR: Prices and deals.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: Tesco has its own homeware ranges, Tesco Home and Fox And Ivy, which are both great. You can buy them online at Tesco Direct, which is essentially a site selling loads of other brands or “partners”, like ASOS. The only drawback is that the site is huge, so you will need to narrow your search to find the best stuff.
SEE IT IN PERSON? Tesco has 479 superstores across the country and most of these carry a selection of the supermarket’s homeware offering. Customers can also shop online for homeware on Tesco Direct, using click and collect or home delivery.
RANGE: Great for crockery, throws, sheets, towels etc, all nodding to the current design trends. Since improving their online offering this summer, they have increased their seasonal collections.
GOOD FOR: Well-priced, quality basics you can pop in your trolley.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: Bigger pieces of furniture but, as mentioned above, many stores are now are getting mini Habitat and Argos concessions.
SEE IT IN PERSON? Sainsbury’s has more than 2,000 stores across the country and 400 of these carry a selection of the supermarket’s homeware offering over 6,000 products. Customers can also shop online on Sainsbury's Home and get it delivered at the same time as their weekly food shop.
RANGE: Random and seasonally driven merchandise.
GOOD FOR: A complete and utter bargain.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: People who are more about the design than the complete and utter bargain.
SEE IT IN PERSON It is a suck-it-and-see, go-into-store approach. The website isn’t transactional, although the homepage will alert you to discounts coming up. Lidl has 650 stores across Great Britain.
RANGE: Large range, but not bewilderingly large. Simple-to-use website. Everything, from coffee tables to cushions and affordable and fashionable accessories that you can treat yourself to. Confusingly, the furniture channel is separate to the main homeware channel, just in case you miss it.
GOOD FOR: Furniture, lighting, bedlinen, accessories.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: From my perspective, no grumbles.
SEE IT IN PERSON? There are 33 Asda Living stores nationwide. If there's not a store near you, over 500 Asdas stock homewares or you buy online at george.com. You can click and collect at 650 locations across supermarkets, filling stations and supercentres.
GOOD FOR: Towels, china, glasses.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: I’d say Morrisons is where many of the supermarkets were a few years ago and that they have a bit of catching up to do, if they intend to be in that space that is. Their offering is still very much pop-in-your-basket fare. A good place to go if you want a face flannel.
SEE IT IN PERSON? Morrisons’ site went transactional a few years ago, so you can buy towels with your weekly food shop.
GOOD FOR: Quality bedlinen and cookware. Also great for gardening stuff.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: Bigger stuff.
SEE IT IN PERSON? Bigger Waitroses have homeware aisles, although of course you can buy online at Waitrose.com (in kitchen, dining and home). Waitrosegarden.com has a huge range of plants, furniture, pots and even sheds, which is predominantly online. Some bigger Waitroses have garden concessions.
RANGE: Offers, offers, offers.
GOOD FOR: Aldi does a bigger range than Lidl and the site is transactional. Some seasonal offers are advertised before they drop in stores, but you can pre-order them online.
NOT SO GOOD FOR: Like Lidl, the range is seasonal-driven, so it’s not the place I’d go to if you are looking for a specific item. But I’d have a look if I was in a bargain-hunting frame of mind and probably come away very satisfied.
SEE IT IN PERSON? Aldi now has 620 stores in the UK and Ireland.