A FUMING shopper has condemned a 24-hour Tesco after discovering it was closed as he attempted a late-night grocery shop.

The Horsham Express store made the decision to close between midnight and 4am following an armed robbery in July.

But shopper Julian Shersby, from Dorking, has branded the closure “disproportionate” and “unadvertised” after waiting outside for half-an-hour for the store to open.

He said: “It is obviously regrettable that the store has suffered a recent armed robbery.

“But I know of many other convenience stores that have also suffered late evening robberies and yet they continue to open during their previous normal opening hours.”

Read more: New demands to block New Monks Farm Ikea development in Lancing

Mr Shersby had toothache so he was awake. He decided to head to the store at 3.20am after realising he was “short on provisions”.

But although the Tesco website said the store is open 24 hours, Mr Shersby found the store’s doors firmly shut on arrival.

He said: “I knocked on the door expecting to be let in.

“But instead a security person said they were closed and not opening again until 4am. He said that following an armed robbery, the manager of the store had decided it was not safe to be open between midnight and 4am.

“I pointed out that I was a greying looking mid 50-year-old on his own and surely did not look like an armed robber. But they absolutely refused to let me in.”

Mr Shersby said he had to wait outside the store for 30 minutes before it opened.

He added that once inside, he was disappointed to find the fresh produce area “heavily depleted”.

The store in Redkiln Way, Horsham, was targeted by balaclava-clad men with weapons who stole cash, cigarettes and alcohol on July 6 last year.

One raider, 29-year-old Owen Smith, of no fixed address, was jailed for 14-years for his part in the robbery.

He also plead guilty to throwing a police officer out of a car in an escape bid.

Mr Shersby said the decision to close between midnight and 4am was irrational as the perpetrator has already been caught, adding the chances of another robbery were “extremely small”.

He said: “If Tesco wish to confront the armed robbery problem then refuse to accept payment by cash and only allow card payments between 9pm and 5am.

“If Tesco adopted this strategy and signposted it, then I would suggest most armed robberies would stop.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “Following a serious armed robbery which took place in 2018, our Horsham Esso Express store has been operating reduced opening hours.

“This measure was put in place as a security precaution.

“However we apologise to customers for any inconvenience this may have caused.

“We can confirm the store is now back open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and serving customers as normal.”