'You can't cheat then?': Queen learns how to use self-checkout as she visits a pop-up Sainsbury's - and wonders what stops shoppers from leaving without paying
- The Queen learned how to use self-service checkouts during a visit to a pop-up Sainsbury's in London today
- The shop, which celebrates the brand's 150th anniversary, features displays of stores through the ages
- During her visit the Queen reminisced about ration books and was shown a typical shopping basket from 1953
- It culminated with the Queen at a self-service till, which prompted her to wonder if it's possible to 'cheat'
The Queen was left intrigued by self-service checkouts during a visit to a pop-up Sainsbury's this morning.
The monarch, 93, questioned whether customers are able to 'cheat' and leave without paying when she was shown the technology in the central London store.
Speaking to a member of staff, the Queen asked: 'And you can't trick it? You can't cheat it then?'
When told that many shoppers enjoyed the convenience of the speedy checkouts, the Queen added: 'I'm sure they do. Everybody wants to hurry.'
The store has been built to mark the supermarket's 150th anniversary. It features replica counters from Sainsbury's stores throughout the decades, allowing visitors to take an interactive journey through the company's history.
The Queen appeared engaged as she viewed butcher's produce from bygone eras and was struck by changing tastes when she was shown the contents of a modern day shopping basket.
She also spent time reminiscing over wartime meals when she was shown a ration book, admitting the royals were 'lucky' to have a farm to supplement their shopping.
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The Queen was talked through the technology of a self-service checkout during her visit today, pictured. A member of staff also showed the Queen an example of the retailer's reusable bags for life, which were introduced to reduce plastic waste
The Queen was shown the technology during a visit to the pop-up Sainsbury's built to mark Sainsbury's 150th anniversary
The Queen speaks to an actor in the role of an early Sainsbury's shopkeeper. The supermarket sold just butter, milk and eggs when it first opened its doors in 1869. The Queen's great-great grandmother Queen Victoria was on the throne at the time
The Queen looked elegant in a mint green coat and matching hat for the outing in central London this morning
The Queen looks at meats on display during a visit to an old-fashioned butcher's counter on a visit to the London pop-up
The exterior of the pop-up shop is designed to look like the first ever Sainsbury's, which opened on Drury Lane in 1869
The monarch, who is thought to have last visited a supermarket with Prince Charles on a royal visit in 2016, appeared in excellent spirits as she arrived at the pop-up store.
Dressed in a mint green A-line coat by Stewart Parvin and a Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat, the Queen waved as she arrived at the store.
It is located in Covent Garden - just a stone's throw from the site of the first Sainsbury's on Drury Lane. The shop, which is open all week, has been designed to look just like the original store, with a sign declaring: 'Sainsbury's For Quality' hung above the door.
Once inside the Queen was given a whirlwind history of Sainsbury's.
John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann opened the first supermarket in what was then one of the poorest parts of London and stocked only butter, milk and eggs. The Queen's great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria was on the throne at the time.
The Queen was shown a replica of the firm’s first delivery bike, which was used to take goods to customers in Croydon, south London.
The Queen was shown a replica of the firm’s first delivery bike, used to take goods to customers in Croydon, south London
At one counter the Queen reminisced about ration books, which the company helped to introduce during the Second World War. She remembered her ration book - 'it was very small' - and how the Royal Family used to supplement their rations with eggs and cheese from the farm at Windsor. She added they were 'lucky' to have a farm
The Queen was amazed at how tastes have changed since her Coronation when she was shown two shopping baskets: one from 1953 (pictured), and one from today. Her Majesty remarked how 'tastes have changed' when shown a porridge sachet
The pop-up shop, open all week, is designed to take visitors on a journey through Sainsbury's 150 year history. Visitors including the Queen can enjoy looking at counters designed to reflect the styles of the supermarket through the decades
The Queen's visit culminated in an explanation of the self-service tills, as seen above. Her Majesty was also told how shoppers can now skip the tills completely by using an app on their phone to pay instead. The Queen described the tool as 'interesting'
A little further on the Queen reminisced about ration books with Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, 91, the company’s life president, and his wife Lady Anya.
Retail rewind: History of Sainsbury's supermarket
Sainsbury's was established as a partnership in 1869, when John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann opened a shop at 173 Drury Lane in Holborn, London – then one of the poorest parts of London.
The brand started as a retailer of fresh foods and later expanded into packaged groceries such as tea and sugar.
By 1882 there were branches in other market streets in the capital - Stepney, Islington and Kentish Town.
Forty years later in 1922, the store departments expanded to include dairy, bacon and hams, poultry and game, cooked meats, and fresh meats. It quickly rose in popularity for offering high-quality goods at reasonably low prices.
During the Second World War the brand went through rationing and employed the first ever female sales assistants, while men were fighting abroad.
In 1950, the London Road, Croydon branch became a self-service supermarket like we know today. Its first own-brand product - Sainsbury bacon - arrived in the same year.
The company went public in 1973 - the largest ever stock market flotation at that time. It was the largest and most lucrative supermarket chain in Britain until it was overtaken as market leader by Tesco in 1995.
It was then demoted to third by Asda in 2003, where it remained until it overtook its budget rival in January 2014.
It moved back into third place in April 2019, when a merger with Asda was still on the table, but this was blocked by the UK's competition watchdog last month over fears it would raise prices for consumers.
The Queen remembered her ration book as being 'very small' and told the Sainsburys how the Royal Family had supplemented their rations with eggs and cheese from the farm at Windsor.
'As a Sunday treat we had some sweeties. But we were lucky we had a farm,' the Queen said.
The monarch was also shown a shopping basket from 1953, the year of her Coronation, alongside one from today.
One item that caught her eye from 1953 was an empty jar of bloater paste, a fish paste made from herring. 'Ghastly,' the Queen said. Sainsbury's employee Lynn Bennett agreed: 'Disgusting.'
The Queen seemed surprised by some items in the modern day shopping basket, which included fish pie and curry ready meals.
When Ms Bennett showed her a packet of sachets of porridge and explained people liked the sachets, the Queen, who famously has her breakfast served in Tupperware, said: 'Porridge?,' telling Ms Bennett: 'Tastes have changed'.
The visit culminated in a demonstration of the self-service checkout by Damien Corcoran, a former Captain in the Royal Signals and a regional manager for Sainsbury’s stores in the north east of England.
She was also told how some shoppers can now use a phone app to pay without visiting the till. 'That’s an interesting tool,' she noted.
The Queen was also shown one of the retailer's bags for life, which were introduced to reduce plastic waste.
Mr Corcoran said that in his work he generally found there were two types of customers: those who embraced new technology quickly and were keen to use it, and others who needed a bit more help from staff.
'I think if I had seen the Queen in one of my stores in the north east of England I would have made sure I had assisted her,' he said.
The Queen looked at the sausages and bacon on display at one of the retro shop counters inside the Sainsbury's store
Dressed in a mint green A-line coat by Stewart Parvin and a Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat, the Queen waved as she arrived at the store, left. The Queen spent half and hour at the shop in central London today
The Queen, who does not go to the supermarket herself, was talked through the different sausages and bacon on offer
The monarch wore her coat over a floral dress, just seen left. Right, the Queen waves as she arrives at the pop-up store
Whole chickens, sticks of butter and tins of coffee were on display at this counter visited by the Queen this morning
The exterior of the pop-up shop is designed to look like the first ever Sainsbury's, which opened on Drury Lane in 1869. Pictured, the Queen arriving at the store this morning, left, and leaving 30 minutes later following a whirlwind history tour
The Queen spoke to actors in period costume, who are on hand to add to the feeling of visiting a store from a bygone era
Before the Queen left, she met a small selection of around 30 of Sainsbury’s 180,000 employees, including some of the 35,000 staff volunteering in their communities to celebrate the 150th anniversary, before unveiling a plaque and cutting a cake to mark the occasion.
Lord Sainsbury, who spent 27 years as chief executive, was delighted by the royal visit. He said: 'Obviously, it’s very flattering to the company in general. I am proud to say that what the company had contributed over the years makes it worth it.'
Recalling the company’s part in bringing in the retail revolution by replacing counter service with self-service supermarkets in 1950, he added: 'I like to think we have deserved it.'
In her long life the Queen has visited a number of supermarkets. She has been to Waitrose twice. The last time was in 2016 when she went to her son Prince Charles’s village Poundbury in Dorset.
Stepping out into the sunshine, the Queen was handed a large bouquet of flowers on her way out of the store
The Queen has had a busy start to the week, with this marking her third official engagement in as many days
The Queen chatted briefly to actors in period costume as she left the interactive Sainsbury's pop-up this morning
The exterior of the pop-up has been designed to look like the original store, which opened its doors just a stone's throw away on Drury Lane in 1869. Pictured right, the Queen spoke to actors in period costume as she left
The Queen was on hand to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the retailer, which has grown into one of the UK's biggest
But they along with most other visits to shops have been on official engagements when the public had been cleared out.
Off duty, she is sometimes thought to stop into shops in Ballater near Balmoral when she is staying on her Scottish estate. She once went for a walk around the duty free shops at an airport during a short stopover.
It has already been a busy week for the Queen. On Monday evening she joined senior royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex at the Chelsea Flower Show, where she was given a tour of the Duchess' garden.
Yesterday she was once again joined by Kate and William as she welcomed hundreds of guests to a Buckingham Palace garden party.
The Queen has already had a busy week of engagements and had another this morning
Excited residents and workers hung out the windows to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty
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