The queues to get in and out of the Lidl car park in Norbury this morning are disturbing to behold, and the news that half the UK population visited Aldi or Lidl - the discount supermarkets - in the last 12 weeks does concentrate the mind wonderfully.
It does so because, among others, Tesco has always been the Great Satan as far as I'm concerned, the very symbol of a corporate that has been allowed to get too powerful, and which corrodes the UK food industry as a result. It is a glimpse of the emerging world of semi-monopoly.
Only a few years ago, I wrote an essay which imagined a kind of Lion, Witch and Wardrobe future where there are only two companies left in the world, one of which is TescoVirgin. You can read it in my book The Age to Come.
I still fear the emerging monopolies, but my guess is that Tesco won't be among them because - despite everything I said - there is still capacity for competition in the supermarket sector. Aldi and Lidl have pushed Tesco below its 30 per cent market share.
They will go down slowly because of the virtual monopolies they have managed to build up in so many times, but they will go down.
Because if you want to shop somewhere where there is nobody to help you, and the security guards keep you obviously under observation, then - well, you might as well go somewhere cheaper. If you want a shop without soul, then why not go to Lidl.
They are the Woolworths of the 2010s. We will see their like again, and it will be Aldi. This is not an optimistic prospect, as half of us now know - it is the least sensitive to local markets of any supermarket model. Go along to your local discount store, and see the downside of the vision of the future.
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