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With the price of food the way it is, lest we forget we are in a ‘cost of living crisis’, I have become hyper-alert at the supermarket these days in terms of what I’m paying. And it seems I’m not the only one.
Headlines these days say shoppers are fed up and looking to go elsewhere than a supermarket. It used to be, back in the good old days, that the supermarket was the best deal for food.
You’d be mad to buy cereal or butter at the local dairy because it was smaller scale so sold at a premium, you could guarantee back then it would always be the more expensive option.
But these days I think that may have changed. Not on everything, but on some things. When a block of butter the other day turned out to be four dollars cheaper at The Warehouse than it was at Countdown, it was apparent the gap’s now enormous.
But here’s the thing, who has got time to drive round all these places comparing prices? For all the people who say it’s up to the consumer to shop around, have you been a consumer lately? It’s exhausting.
We don’t have hours and hours in the day to endlessly trawl supermarkets, dairies or The Warehouse looking for the cheapest price.
Most shoppers going to get groceries have limited time, they’re sticking to their local hood for various reasons including the price of petrol, so they’re not driving all over the place to check butter prices.
That’s what your local supermarket is banking on of course, it’s preying on our desire for convenience, but to get a step ahead of them is hard work on our part.
So it behoves the supermarkets to do better by us doesn't it?
Their success was artificially inflated by the Government during lockdowns when they decreed from on high that supermarkets could be the only places to open.
And that was a travesty for the local fruit and vege shops, bakeries and butchers, but I’ve decided they’re the best places to shop.
You can guarantee you get the freshest produce, way fresher than a supermarket, you get the personable interaction of others in your community, and you’re supporting small, locally-run businesses.
The new moves by the Government to monitor supermarkets, off the back of that Commerce Commission report don’t come into effect until next year, so if you think supermarkets are already responding, you can think again. They’re still at it, and they know they’ve got us over a barrel when it comes to convenience.
I wonder how many of us who planted vege gardens during lockdown still have them going? How many who took up baking their own bread are still doing that?
I mean when push came to shove we sure did get creative with food provisioning, but back to normality means back to our old habits. And I don’t know that’s necessarily a good thing? Not if we’re getting fleeced at the checkout, surely?
So I’m actively trying to spend less time in supermarkets these days, shop smaller and locally more often, and buy in season.
It doesn’t mean I’ve gone as far as baking my own bread, but I’m not ruling it out.