28 June 2008


Only hermits, prisoners and The Queen don't visit supermarkets. 99% of us are regular visitors to these grocery palaces. As the years have passed, the main British supermarket chains have become both expert and ruthless in their insatiable quest for our money. Some time ago, the BBC conducted a survey to find out shoppers' main gripes about supermarkets and these were the results:-

1. Changes to food/aisle layout
2. Running out of basics
3. Stops stocking favourite item
4. Long queues
5. Trolleys with dodgy wheels
6. Picking the ‘wrong’ queue
7. Grumpy till assistants
8. Person in front of queue running off to get another item
9. Staff who don’t know where things are

Well, as regular readers of this grumbling old blog will guess, I have a few other gripes to add to the list! Take this week for example. It has become clear to ASDA and Tesco that in the current economic climate the budget/discout supermarkets - Netto, Aldi and Lidl are increasing their market share. So what do the big boys do? They cynically plan widespread reductions in the cost of basic food items to combat the growing threat to their dominance. What I would ask is this - why did the buggers have to wait to slash costs? This can only mean that their margins were greedily too wide beforehand. They are like monsters chomping up the nation's wealth, killing high streets, providing people with corporate monster uniforms and terribly low pay.

I don't know who worked this out but they say that for every seven pounds spent in the UK, £1 is spent at Tesco. That is a helluva lot of money - so who is benefiting from this monstrous profit-fest? Who are the people watching their supermarket-engendered incomes growing like rampant cornfields as they sit round distant swimming pools drinking pink champagne? If anyone knows the answer please tell me.

Other things I despise about supermarkets:-
1) Psychological mind games - fresh fruit at the entrance, the smell of baking bread.
2) Loss leaders and "Buy One Get One Free" tricks to lull us into spending more money.
3) How their scanning or pricing errors are okay but a kid stealling a can of lager feels the full force of their legal wrath.
4) "Free" delivery services that those not using the delivery service actually pay for!
5) Very limited recycling facilities even though they are responsible for mountains of waste.
6) Occasional and very costly changes in corporate uniforms. Who pays for them?
7) How they flout or stretch planning laws and ultimately kill off independent stores.
8) Extended opening times that mean workers must accept unsocial hours.
9) Mind boggling choice on the shelves - far too much choice in fact, leaving shoppers overwhelmed.
10) Bullying and exploitation of farmers and growers in the UK and across the world - to squeeze out maximum profits - no matter what the hurt or repercussions.

In a few minutes, I will be doing what I do every Saturday - toddling off to Netto with my recyclable shopping bags. I will spend several pounds less than I would need to spend at the Monstermarkets. Choice will be refreshingly limited. It will only take me forty minutes as the shop is so small. Regular workers Ange and Keeley will chat with me and who knows what I might pick up from the weird middle aisle? A bowling ball - a riding helmet - a marble egg - a mallet - a set of oil paints - a set of saucepans? Such is the magical world of your local Netto store...


  1. Anonymous11:15 am

    We will get you for this! Nobody but nobody challenges the world dominannce of Tesco! We are coming for you! Beware!

  2. Anonymous11:17 am

    Money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money, money...

  3. I've tried shopping at Lidl and Aldi and I can't say I manage to save anything much compared with shopping at Sainsbury's. Prices seem to be going up everywhere.

  4. Anonymous9:27 pm

    Is Shirley Porter making a mint out of all of us Tesco prisoners?

  5. I used to work in the industry in the UK before I emmigrated, have to say that if you think it is bad shopping there, try working for them. In NZ we have no choice, 2 companies control all our supermarkets so there is very little competition & less choice.

  6. My complaint is not so much about the stores as the people who go there. Why are mom and dad going grocery shopping with 4 kids in tow? One of you should stay home with the kids and keep the aisles of the store less crowded and easier to navigate. And while I'm at it, please put the shopping cart in its proper place instead of leaving it out in the parking lot!

  7. I use the weekly market as much as possible, grow/produce my own (not everyone's choice/privilege/burden) and just buy posh stuff/basics that I can't get easily anywhere else from waitrose, who at least are better on the farmer relations stuff. It's a political and social nightmare out in the world of shopping.

  8. Anonymous8:06 am

    How their scanning or pricing errors are okay but a kid stealing a can of lager feels the full force of their legal wrath.

    I totally hear you! We've gone shopping numerous times , only to find out at the checkout that the item was priced wrongly.

    I used to shop at Netto's too. Not only that, I was a drivers mate for them for a short while. I stopped working for them right before Christmas, and then flew out to Canada the following August.

    A lot of my friends refused to shop at Netto's because it was "cheap" I wonder how many of them now have no other choice because of price rises everywhere else.

    Btw, you've been tagged!

  9. So sorry about you friend Boris. We have some independent grocers here in Texas. They are cheaper but as you said, the selection isn't as large. We do shop them however along with the big boys. With of course our cloth shopping bags.

  10. Anonymous3:51 pm

    I agree with the bloke in New Zealand. Here we have just two supermarkets in control and they don't seem to be much in competition as their prices are always around the same. The only areas where they are cheaper are where we have an Aldis store or an idependent supermarket which is not bin all areas. Now we have been told we are going to have to pay 10 cents for every plastic bag that we use so the profits for the big two supermarket are going to be even bigger. It seems to be much more cynical nowadays

  11. What about that thing where they bang on about supporting Fair Trade and then put all the fair trade tea and coffee on the top shelf so you really have to look to find it? (Yes, I KNOW I'm always going on about this. I just hate the hypocrisy of it).


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