Friday, 12 June 2009

How to kill a town....

As you may know, if you read my earlier, panicked posts, I have friends coming to stay this weekend. Living in the back of beyond, as I do, this means that preparation is required. Lists must be made, menus planned and the shopping tackled. If I forget it now, that's it for the weekend unless I want to do a 30 mile round trip for milk. So this morning I headed off, list in hand, to a local town to do the food shopping.

From the new hovel I have three towns to choose from. They are all about the same distance (16 miles or so) from me. One of them has a large Morrisons, one has a Tescos, and the other has a smaller Somerfield. The last town was the most convenient today as I needed to head off in that direction in order to drop some things off at a neighbour's house.

Due to the fact that my money cupboard is virtually bare, I had done a cunning menu plan which would look as though I had gone to vast effort, whilst in fact spending very little. Or so I thought.

One small trolley later I was a HUNDRED POUNDS poorer. What? How the $?@* did that happen? I always mentally have a figure in my head for how much my shopping will cost. My worst case scenario for this one was seventy pounds. If it wasn't for the fact that I simply didn't have the time to drive the now 40 miles to the next town and back home again, I would have refused to pay. It was daylight robbery.

Shopping is getting more and more expensive, whatever they say about inflation. It's not like I was buying scallops on the shell, caviar and blinis. I was buying value chopped tomatoes, bread, milk; ordinary things. The cashier watched me go white and sway slightly with interest.

"Expensive isn't it." She commented.
"Euurgh, splutter, swoon, YES" replied I.
"They can charge what they want here, no competition see." she explained.

And that is the nub of the problem. There is no other supermarket within a good 30 miles of this one and they can charge what they like, so they do. The thing is that this is a surefire way to kill the town.

I had been to the bank, the post office and the hardware store before I went to the supermarket, as I imagine do lots of other people when they come into town. However if Somerfield doesn't get its act together people will stop deciding on that town for their shopping. They will head in the other direction instead. At that point, not only does the wretched supermarket suffer, but also all the other shops in town. Slowly but surely, it will die. All because Somerfield are too greedy.

10 comments:

justme said...

I have a waitrose about 7 miles away and a co op about 5. Curiously, the Waitrose is actually cheaper for some items. But all in all, BOTH of them are hugely expensive. I reckon food shopping costs almost twice as much as it did 18 months ago......

bevchen said...

Yeah, food shopping is expensive. I never fail to be amazed by the price of fruit and vegetables. No wonder people live on junk... noone can afford to eat healthily!

Mrs Jones said...

It astonishes me every week how expensive seven days' worth of food for two adults and two-and-a-half cats is. A couple of years ago it would be between £50 and £60, now it's nearer £80 and this is at a big Sainsburys with a Waitrose 2 minutes' walk away. I even started an allotment last year to try and help with the costs. I've no idea how those on low incomes or state pensions manage...

The Singlutionary said...

I live in the city of grocery stores. There is one per square mile in this city. And it is still expensive. Of course I am too lazy to drive the 5 miles to the discount store so I shop at the medium level fancy pants one less than 1 mile down the road.

Tourist traps usually charge a lot for food because they have a steady supply of (non repeat) customers. But it makes life harder for the locals.

I've been meaning to mention to you, Welsh Girl, that I HAVE been to the Tetons. I lived there one summer after college and worked in Moose. I rode by bike out to lake Jenny. Sometimes I long for the Mtns just as much as I long for the ocean. But I love my low hilly landlocked home.

onely said...

I go through the same angst whenever I have company coming--even though I live pretty near to amenities, psychologically I always feel unprepared because my house is very Christina-single-woman friendly, but not guest-friendly. For example, I don't ever have ice cubes. I always forget to make them, because I hate them. But somehow guests always seem to want ice cubes. Hope you have a good weekend!
Christina

Home Office Mum said...

If I get out of a supermarket spending less than a £100 I'm tempted to tear my clothes off and run around the carpark naked in my joy. Luckily for the other shoppers this is a very rare occurence

screamish said...

yeah- exactly what we've been noticing in France. Three years ago when we moved to this town groceries for two was about 60 euros at the local discount place- it's now up to 100 euros for two per week...not including wine.

Some friends claim they spend well over 150 euros a week on food and its entirely possible if you dont go to the cheapest of the cheapest shops. Unfortunately the cheap shops are chains and as much as id like to support the local small shop I simply cant afford to aklmost double that bill....

a couple of months ago we had friends come over for aperitif (snacks, drinks) and the bill at the local small shop was 55 euros. !!!!!!!!!!!

Carolyn said...

It's the same here in the states. I cringe when my children come home from college because this means a trip to the market and a serious depletion of my bank account. I agree with Bevchen, it's the cost of vegetables, fruit, dairy products, and meat that seems to have risen the most. The poor were the first to suffer, but now, more and more of the middle class are doing without. I remind myself when I feel a pity party coming on that while doing without is not much fun, it is a lot better than going hungry. And I'm afraid there are far too many going hungry.

Welsh Girl said...

Justme - I dream of Waitrose. They won't come to Wales 'cos they think we aren't sophisticated enough for them!
Bevchen- I'm not even sure I can afford to eat junk food anymore at the prices they charge..
Mrs Jones - I know. It's shocking isn't it. This year, having moved, I don't have a vegetable garden and that is definitely making the whole thing worse.
Singlutionary - You're very right. That particular town is a tourist trap and they catch all the holiday makers renting cottages and couldn't give a stuff about the rest of us. Re the other thing - aren't the Tetons glorious? When I first saw them, coming from the East, they looked so picture perfect I didn't think they were real. If a tourist board wanted to paint a perfect snowy mountain backdrop then they would be it!
Onely - Oh lord - the ice cube drama. I have that too. I don't hate them or anything but I do forget to make them. I now try and remember to buy a bag of ice (along with everything else).
Home Office Mum - if your supermarket knew that this would be the reaction to price cuts, perhaps they would instigate some more of them!!!
Screamish - So it isn't just here then? Isn't it wildly irritating that whether you are doing a big shop or a small 'aperitif' style shop it is always a HIDEOUS bill at the end. There doesn't seem to be an affordable option left.
Carolyn - You are right. We should count our blessings, but it doesn't make it easier when you haemorrage (sp??) money just buying food for everyday. It's depressing and frightening as it isn't exactly somewhere where it is possible to cut back.

mia oia said...

It's got more expensive in Italy too. (although thankfully nowhere near as much as the UK)
There are some good farm markets for organic fruit and veg, dairy products and cold meats though.

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