Shortly before Christmas and just a couple of weeks after the final push of the local anti-Tesco campaign failed to get the Council's planning committee to block the arrival of a Tesco Express in Lower Clapton Road, I saw men preparing the site for the shop-fitting to come. The blue fence cordon around the premises is the most visible result. I don't know if an opening date has been fixed, but I doubt it is far off.
And so the scene is set for an intriguing test of the thesis that the arrival of Tesco means certain death for independent retailers with all the undesirable knock-on effects that can entail: boarded-up shops, a damaged local economy, a duller, more homogenised neighbourhood. It's not a happy thought. But as I've argued before, plenty of local people will welcome a branch of a supermarket chain - unless, that is, Tesco has made a hash of judging the market, something it is hardly famous for.
It will be fascinating to see how established rival stores like Palm 2 and Fairdeal respond to the challenge of the giant. Can they hope to compete on price for basic goods like bread and milk? Should they even try to, and instead specialise more in the hope of boosting trade among a loyal clientele with niche requirements and tastes? Given the recent disappearance of two butchers from Lower Clapton Road, Tesco seems set to do well in that department. How will Mike's Meats in Clarence Road be affected? Could they profit from exploiting anti-Tesco sentiment?
In the end, it's all brutally simple. The survival of independent traders will depend on the willingness of local people to give them enough of their custom. with that in mind I've already reduced my use of supermarket home delivery services from once a week to once a fortnight - from Sainsbury's since you ask - and am spending more of my money at Palm 2 and elsewhere. The only course of resistance now left to Tesco-resistors is to do the same.