The court in Masstores (Pty) Ltd v Pick n Pay Retailers (Pty) Ltd had to decide whether a retailer was breaching its lease by operating a supermarket selling a range of perishable and non-perishable food products within its general retailer store.

The court said that regard must first be had to the word “supermarket” itself. The court started with the dictionary meaning of the word because it was an ordinary, well-known and oft-used word with an ordinary meaning. Using the Oxford Dictionary the court adopted the meaning of “a large self-service shop selling foods and household goods.” Therefore the store had to be large and carry a wide range of products. Once a store of sufficient size carries a wide variety of food and household products which meet the usual requirements of an average family it qualifies as a supermarket.

The court also disregarded expert evidence as to whether it was a supermarket. The court had no need for experts to explain the meaning of an ordinary word and held that the food section in the Game store was a supermarket.