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... to think that the REASON why big supermarkets are proliferating is because they provide what most familiesneed? (rant)

(84 Posts)
fgaaagh Fri 17-Jun-11 13:02:28

I've had a bit of a disagreement (intellectual, not an actual argument) with my oldest brother about the increasing spread of supermarkets which are butting out independant little shops in the area he lives (quite an up-market area where his wife grew up, there was a campaign to get rid of Tesco's planning application a few years ago).

I honestly think that people who are against Tesco (or any other large supermarket chain) have a point in that they don't always provide decent value, they limit the range of goods available, they stranglehold the market so that e.g. it's harder to set up a new business in an area where everyone just shops at the supermarket.

But I also strongly, strongly believe that the reason these supermarkets proliferate so well isn't their bully tactics of suppliers. It's not even shrewed planning of store locations, or pricing structures, or reward schemes. It's not great marketing. Or the services they have on offer (e.g. having clothes, petrol or prescriptions next to your other foodstuffs).

It's that they provide what most people want, nay, need these days.

I grew up in a household where mum was a SAHM (she gave up a semi-professional career "because that's what married women did"), dad was fulltime breadwinner. She was able to visit a butcher, and a baker, and an independant gas fitter to arrange a repair, if she needed. But I don't know many families that have that luxury now! Certainly when I was a "SAHM" for a few years, I was also caring for an ill relative (now sadly passed away) and taking on part time freelance work every few months to pay for stuff like car repairs and one off costs, plus we live in an area where it's much less safe to let kids roam the streets. I remember getting in at an 8pm curfew as a young teen, there's no way I'd let mine stay out here independantly until 8pm at the same age (bad area).

Anyway, getting back to my point - these supermarkets provide what my family needs. Tonight, DH is working overtime, and I'm due to collect kids, pick up mum, visit dad in hospital, go to supermarket on way home, drop mum and her food off - I can only do that because the supermarket is a 24hr one!

How could I, with this schedule, visit the nice independant butcher that I know operates just a 10min drive from my house, when he closes at 5.30pm the last time I checked?

Or the last time I popped into a baker on the rare occasion I just go from work straight home, it was 4pm and they had no more than a handful of bread and cakes left at that time.

So, AIBU to think that whilst people like my brother (works for himself - runs his own company - sets his own schedule and has a SAHM) can pooh pooh all they want about the evils of supermarkets, but until (if) independant little shops don't get with the times and realise that many families have sympathy for their economic plight, until it's 10000% more convenient, I'll just continue to shop at Tesco? And that his disdain of me shopping at Tesco, is, frankly, a luxury he (not most other people) can afford?

MindyMacready Fri 17-Jun-11 13:08:41

True, but I think they also partake of profiteering though. Our local ASDA is constantly artificially putting prices up, so that a couple of weeks later they have the same item "Rolled back" to exactly the same price is was originally. Makes my blood boil! shockhmmangry

iklboo Fri 17-Jun-11 13:10:40

I live in the scrag end of Salford. In the last 10 years all the butchers, bakers, grocers, fishmongers etc onthe high street have closed down. Not especially because of supermarkets (the nearest Tesco & Sainsburys have been where they are at least 12 years, Morrison's is a bus ride away, Asda 2 buses) but also because:

a) the local council put the rates etc up massively in the late 90s
b) the local fucking morons 'hard lads' would rob the shops on a regular basis and/or demand 'security' money so the shops wouldn't be robbed. The police did bugger all as no-one was prepared to speak out.

Now we have one 'mini-market' which is well stocked on booze, cigs, sweets & crap food (plus the 'essentials') but has nothing ilke the stock of the supermarkets sad

porcamiseria Fri 17-Jun-11 13:11:20

yanbu, dont get why people get so enraged about supermarkets, they pay tax, provide employment, and provide what people want. if people want to support local shops, go for it!

Joolyjoolyjoo Fri 17-Jun-11 13:13:25

Sorry, but I think YABU! I don't believe that the big supermarkets provide what families need, more what they condition us to want. I wonder if your brother has been reading "shopped" about the ethics and management styles of the big supermarkets? I read it years ago and changed the way I shopped. I still use the supermarket for some things, but for meat, fish and veg I use smaller local suppliers. I definitely find the quality and service better, and I don't like the ethos of a lot of the supermarkets, even if they are convenient. My butcher and fishmonger used to deliver to my work, and my fruit and veg are delivered to my door. I can order quantities exactly as I want, and get a personal friendly service, and great produce to boot.

I see using smaller local shops as preserving my right to having choice. I find that my local suppliers are far more keen to accomodate my wishes than the local tesco, and I don't want to lose that. Supermarkets are actually eradicating our choice, by supplying varieties eg of fruit that they decide will be what we want, and we know no different. They are also ruthless with their suppliers, and the dairy industry has been pushed almost to its knees with their methods.

I don't see shopping at independant shops a "luxury"- far from it. I work full time and shop on a budget.

sparks Fri 17-Jun-11 13:14:39

Ok I shop at tesco sometimes too, but I don't admire them. I think they do limit the range of goods available, bully suppliers and all those other bad things.

YANBU, but neither is your brother.

bubblecoral Fri 17-Jun-11 13:16:33

I dont understand why there seems to be a capaign against every new tesco that goes up.

It never works, and the day after the store opens it's full of new customers, and a year later most people would probably be gutted if it went.

I love big supermarkets.

satanrejectedmysoul Fri 17-Jun-11 13:17:48

Tesco and the others are often cheaper than your independent retailers. But beware! If all the independent retailers were to go out of business what's to stop the big firms putting their prices up again?

I occasionally shop at my local market and am often pleasantly surprised by the quality and value of their wares.

Yesterday I bought a kilo of pink lady apples from the market for £1.87 compared to £3.30 at Sainsbury's! The bananas from the market were much tastier too!

MrsBethel Fri 17-Jun-11 13:17:58

People are voting with their feet.

It seems a minority of posh wankers would like us all to have to spend more time and money on our shopping by using umpteen tiny shops and not one big one, because that fits in with the wanky ideas they get from their wanky periodicals.

Well, they can spend their money where they fucking like, and I'll spend mine where I fucking like.

TheCrackFox Fri 17-Jun-11 13:18:52


DH and I regularly argue about this all the time.

People wouldn't shop in them if they didn't like them.

nicespam Fri 17-Jun-11 13:19:11

tesco's pricing is criminal, they also have 'offers' that work out more expensive than you may think. they seem to think the majority of their customers are too thick to work out when they're being conned.

i would really like to see them being taken up on this fact it's morally wrong.

so they may give us what we want but they don't do it fairly

itisnearlysummer Fri 17-Jun-11 13:19:31

Unfortunately though, some times when people work full time, they just don't have time to visit lots of independent shops. I don't work full time, but if I did, I'd find it very difficult to do my shopping at the weekends because of family stuff.

At supermarkets people can by a bag of potatoes, a bottle of shampoo, a bedside table, TV and a washing machine all under the same roof.

I don't choose it but i can see why people do.

nicespam Fri 17-Jun-11 13:21:41

in our iceland 6 pack of coke is £1.57 in tesco it it £3.47

mouthwash is £4.02 and in sainsbos £.2.71

and that's just what i bought today

TiggyD Fri 17-Jun-11 13:24:16

Very true MrsBethel. Give people what they want and they will go there. Cheapish, convenient, quick, easy to park, reliable, etc. Do I really want to go to a butcher, queue, pay for meat, then go to a fishmonger, greengrocer, ironmonger, breadmonger, electrical appliancemonger and queue and pay in all those as well?

StayingDavidTennantsGirl Fri 17-Jun-11 13:26:54

Mouthwash and coke, nicespam - cocktail night round yours tonight, then? winkgrin

nicespam Fri 17-Jun-11 13:29:05

grin we're wild and crazy people

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 17-Jun-11 13:29:42

YANBU. Supermarkets are very good at providing what people want. If they didn't meet requirements, they would have no customers. I think there is a lot of snobbery about independent shops and supermarkets alike. Some people are happy to shop around, travel to multiple locations and hunt down good sources of food... fair play to them... .others just want to get in, buy everything and go home as fast as possible. Nothing wrong with that.

And finally, I think there's a lot of misplaced nostalgia about greengrocers and butchers etc. There were a lot of really bad ones at one time cutting corners and providing a shoddy service. Grocers pressing a thumb on the scale, ripping people off. Greengrocers displaying lovely apples at the front but popping the bruised ones at the back in your bag. Butchers putting all kinds of crap in sausages. Supermarkets aren't perfect but they're a lot better regulated.

Joolyjoolyjoo Fri 17-Jun-11 13:31:38

Hey- I shop at independant butchers etc and I am NOT "wanky" in the slightest!!

have any of you checked whether the smaller shops near you deliver? Many do! As I said, mine will even deliver to my work!

I bought lemon sole from my fishmonger once then realised I didn't have enough, so went to supermarket. Same price, but when I brought it home and put it next to my nice fresh stuff from the fishmonger it looked awful- god knows how many times it had been frozen (bleurgh)

It's nothing to do with being wanky and everything to do with getting decent quality food for my family and great service.

TheCrackFox Fri 17-Jun-11 13:31:52

Completely agree with you Cognito.

Mmy Gran (who would be 90 is still alive) absolutely loved the invention of supermarkets. You could choose what you liked from the shelves and not be palmed off with a stale chunk of cheese that the shopkeeper has decided you are having.

BalloonSlayer Fri 17-Jun-11 13:33:19


When my eldest two were little I think all my clothes came from Tesco. It was the only place I could manage to go to shop with two under-twos. I'd go there rather than Sainsbury's because they had clothes and homeware and more baby-and-toddler trollies

I was grateful for it. Hardly go in there now as like your brother, I have the time to shop around.

GrungeBlobPrimpants Fri 17-Jun-11 13:34:14

I'm with you OP
As far as grocery shopping goes, I've got limited time and I want to whizz round in an hour for a week's shopping. Actually, that's what I'd do even if I had time on my hands.

I do like town-centre M&S and tesco food stores though, rather than out-of-town ones

The independent grocery stores here are largely very upmarket olive oil sort of specialists. The type of shop it's nice to browse on holiday but which I'd never actually buy stuff from

ebbandflow Fri 17-Jun-11 13:35:42

OP I think what you are saying is right. I just wish they were much nicer buildings to walk around-they are too bright and big

higgle Fri 17-Jun-11 13:36:50

A few months back I did decide to try and patronise our local shops as the local newspapr was going on and on about a new Sainsbury's putting their businesses at risk. We are veggie so didn't try the butcher but the wholefood shop, bakery and fruit and veg shop. None of them were very good. The f&v shop had over ripe tired stock that was at least as expensive as the supermarket, they were taliking amongst themselves and didn't seem interested in serving me in the bread shop. In the wholefood shop there were none of the things that I expected them to sell - nice flavoured tofu and intesting veggie sos, no tins of braised tofu and when I asked if they would consider stocking them the shop owner looked at me as if I was totally stupid. I went away resolving to stick to Tesco in future. ( I certainly won't shop at the new Sainsbury's as they make you put in a pound to use a trolley - which is totally unacceptable to me )

memphis83 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:36:53

I buy my meat from a butchers, and my fruit and veg from the market, I get produce on a monday as it is fresh that morning, I get a huge bowl of each thing for a pound, 2 cauliflowers a pound compared to £1.67 in my Tesco for one! Meat is £2.70 for 2 chicken breasts that are double the size of supermarket ones, in Tesco £3.30 for 2 small ones, £1 for 5 red peppers compared to one being 86p at Tesco. I use supermarkets but never for meat and fresh produce as it goes off or past its best within days where as my veg and fruit is still lovely 5 days on from the market, but wouldnt go near Tesco even though its a stonesthrow from my door, they are so expensive it works out cheaper to pay fuel to drive 15 mins up the road to go elsewhere!!

Vicky2011 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:36:58

Agree with you OP. No fan of Tesc's but I also don't shed a tear for the days when shops used to close at 12.30 on a Wednesday and a working mum like mine had only one day to shop for the week. I made the mistake of asking her once why she never took me to swimming or other sport on a Sat as I do with my DS and she made the fair point that she (of course not just her, my Dad also) couldn't commit to anything that would mean less time for all the practical stuff that we can now do all week like shopping and going to the bank. Shopping itself took so much longer as you had to go to so many different places and the shops themselves were busier.

On another note, our neighbouring village has a proper butcher. It is great, can source quite rare stuff and the staff are knowledgable and friendly. It is however, SERIOUSLY expensive. It's in an affluent commuter village and tbh there are a limited number of places which could support that kind of luxury. I ain't poor by any means but £20 for a normal sized joint of pork?? No way.

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