A loaf of bread, 5 pairs of socks and 500 euros please

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And you could add dry cleaning, picture processing, garden plants and any number of other things to that list, all of which are items available in supermarkets these days.

The idea of a self-service grocery store was developed by Clarence Saunders who opened his first Piggly Wiggly store in 1916.

early Piggly Wiggly store

It wasn’t until the 1920’s that fresh, perishable goods were being sold in self-service stores.

It wasn’t until after world war 2 in 1948 that the first supermarket opened in Manor Park, East London. And in the 1960’s came the first out of town Hypermarket in West Bridgeford, near Nottingham with 1000 car parking spaces and described by an advert as “Streamlined. Modern. Convenient”

During the following decades, the size and number of supermarket brands continued to flourish, as did the products they sold. Love them or hate them, think of them as saviours or high-street killers, they can now sell you pretty much anything including your holiday cash.

It’s not clear when the first bureau de change opened in a department store or supermarket but in recent years the rise has been phenomenal.

Debenhams, Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda to name but a few, have all got in-store travel money kiosks and more and more stores are having the facility added.

The advantages are obvious, a well-known trusted brand that you are happy to buy your groceries and clothes and lots of other things from so why not holiday money?

But are they value for money, do you get the best rates, are they selling you short because you trust them? We took some sample rates for £500 worth of currency from the website to test this out:

Euros: Far and away the most popular currency sold today. The best rate we had on offer was 1.0920 and that was with Debenhams. Sainsburys and Tesco were 3rd and 4th out of a list of 19 suppliers so that’s pretty impressive from the supermarkets (and department stores – sorry Debenhams)!

US Dollars: The next most popular currency. The best rate was again from Debenhams at 1.3071 and again Tesco and Sainsbury’s were 3rd and 4th.

OK all is looking good for the big brands but what about some less popular currencies?

Qatar Riyals: Why not? Well Debenhams have hit the no.1 spot again! Their rate was 4.7495 and would have given you nearly 100 more Riyals than the 6th placed supplier. However, there were no supermarkets appearing on our listings for this currency.

Fiji Dollars: What a lovely place to visit but where do you buy your currency? This time the big hitters dropped a bit. The best rate was from the independent Travel FX at 2.5241 and from 14 suppliers Debenhams came in at 5th with 2.4777, Tesco 7th and Sainsburys a little way back at 10th.

Debenhams store

What does this tell us? Well for the popular currencies on smallish amounts below £750 the big brands can hit the spot with some great rates. However, generally speaking the more you want to buy the more competitive it gets, and for less popular currencies always check first because they may not stock them at all.

Bear in mind that all these rates were a snapshot of rates at 3pm on 13th September and will fluctuate with the markets. And the advice is always to order online first because with most suppliers the walk-in rate will not be the same as the online rate.

All current live rates and ordering details can be found here.

So yes, buy your bread your socks and order your currency from your local supermarket or department store and know their rates can be as good as it gets!


Posted by Graham Morley

Graham Morley

Graham is the Business Development Manager for Compare Holiday Money.

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