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Convenience Shopping?

Shopping locally is supposed to be the consumer fight-back against big business. Many of us, determined to defy the BOGOFs and bright lights of the supermarkets, make an effort to shop at local independents, but it's made difficult – if not impossible – by the fact that the numbers are fast dwindling, and if you can find one, it's seemingly never open when you want to shop. When was the last time you thought you might pick up a chop for tea at the not unreasonable time of 6.30pm and found the butcher's open? Let's face it, most of our independent high street food retailers open promptly at 9am and just as diligently close at 5pm. And that's where the supermarkets step in. They've grasped the not-very-difficult fact that most of us are at work during daylight hours and the idea of a convenience store is that it is conveniently open when we need it; not when they've done their standard trading hours. And lo and behold, because we can pick up something quick for dinner at a time that suits us, the independent retailers start to go out of business. The consumer is stuck between retail guilt for not supporting the independent and indifference because you can't miss what wasn't really there. It wouldn't take much for an enterprising retailer to open and close a little later. It's difficult – many of them are family-owned and that takes organising but you're not going to lose much of the morning trade and by staying open till 7.30pm or even 8pm, you will increase evening trade, who will revisit because you're open when others aren't. We can blame ourselves for not shopping locally and defying the supermarkets, but it would be nice if the independents helped their own cause.

Moregeous - November 20, 2009

I'm lucky to be self employed, always nipping here and there, so am able to pop into the local butchers and grocers in South Manchester and support smaller retailers. They are friendly, know me by name and we have a laugh. Plus they let me off if I forget my purse in a blonde moment and can pay next time. You very rarely get any of that in a supermarket! It's far more expensive to shop in places like Tesco (which I loathe with an unsurpassed passion and refuse to go into unless a starvation emergency) It's not just small independents who've been put out of business by laziness and supermarket power - dairy farmers, pork rearers, UK fruit and veg growers.... Of course they are convenient, but at a huge cost to quality, and to local and more sustainable food producers. Waitrose is to die for, and they have great policies, but it's bloody expensive!

Bernie - November 18, 2009

Well I'd add that I much prefer buying food from supermarkets than independent stores. Waitrose has the variety that I want in one place so I don't have to trawl through a street full of tiny independents picking up a carrier bag of broccoli here and an unwieldy box of salted fish there then trudge along with the whole lot in my arms as I search for the car; a supermarket's products are clearly labeled... none of that family-butchers-counter-full-of-unidentifiable-meat that I don't have the time to have explained to me; its invariably cheaper in the supermarket; the food looks fresher - whether it actually is or not is a different matter... but I can pick up the plump tomatoes from the back of the rack rather than be forced to deal with the last squashy few left in the local fruit & veg shop; big chain supermarkets are pretty hot on the health and safety so I can be pretty sure I'm not going to get food poisoning... several of my local butchers don't even get their meat delivered in refrigerated trucks. But most of all, it doesn't take me 3 hours to buy a week's food. Supermarkets are quick. And yes, the fact that I can shop after work helps a lot.... as opposed to during my lunch break and hiding carrier bags under my desk for the afternoon.

Red - November 16, 2009

In my head I always support the wee man. Whether it’s buying a paper, food, electrical equipment I intend to use an independent retailer. Never the dreaded Tesco etc. But the reality is that I am a lazy barsteward and cannot be arsed as I have a busy life. I guess the only way I would make the extra effort would be if the price was significantly cheaper and /or the shops sold a unique product. So for me it’s the ease of a big business shop not their opening hours and availability.

Riccy - November 16, 2009

Just heard on the radio today about south Cumbria's 'virtual high street' where you can buy all sorts of food with tip-top provenance online and do it in the middle of the night if you want. I guess the only downside is that you can't squeeze the tomatoes or poke the fish...

Pathfinder - November 16, 2009

there is no getting away from the fact that supermarkets are taking over and actually are convienient and cheap however I do very much like buying food from farmers markets and local butchers/bakers/fruit & veg shops etc, it seems to give me an appreciation of the real food that I am eating as opposed to the mass produced packaged items that are available from supermarkets, so I agree.