I gather that ‘Morrisons’ is losing out in the supermarket race because they have no online shopping capacity. I understand very well that bookshops, electrical stores, music stores and, to a certain extent, clothing outlets might lose out to internet shopping, but not supermarkets. Why? Because the supermarket is always busy. The car park is always full, the shop is always heaving with people and the checkouts always boast queues. At weekends, particularly people like to make a family outing of it. Mothers, fathers and children will be there, arguing, shouting, crying, threatening, larking about, getting irritated. Why? Why do entire families go? Why do they not divide the tasks of childcare and shopping and save everyone from supermarket purgatory?
On the other hand, supermarket delivery vans are constantly buzzing around the streets so presumably someone is clicking away in the virtual food aisles-but who?
I can see the appeal of online grocery shopping, and have attempted it myself, in a former life as a proper working person. I registered, got my puny brain round the method, selected my items, selected my favoured delivery slot and paid. Bingo! I could come straight home and collapse into my usual heap without the added stress of hunting down a parking space, flogging up and down the aisles with a trolley, queuing to pay, unloading it all onto the conveyor belt, packing it all into bags, trundling it to the car, unloading, getting home, unloading again and then stowing it-[of course that still had to be done]. I felt smug. The van came at the appointed time, the bags were brought in and the driver left. Lovely. I delved into my shopping.
It had not been a success. This must have been someone else’s order, I thought, as it was not recognisable as our familiar, monotonous food purchases. Somehow I’d managed to buy five large bags of pears, four, miniscule, wafer-thin slices of salami, three potatoes and a number of items I’d never heard of and had no clue what to do with. There was wrapped, sliced, white, blotting paper bread-the type we consider an abomination-and a packet of sliced, processed cheese. The pre-packed meats were clearly the packets that had been rejected by real, not virtual shoppers since they contained tawdry, fat and gristle encrusted scraps. Who had ordered these things? I rushed to the computer to find the answer: It was me.
Having ascertained that my knowledge of weights, measures, food descriptions and names was inadequate for such a quest I returned to manual shopping. Nowadays I am at liberty to undertake this task at whatever time of day suits me. Although a casual inquiry at the shop as to which times of day are the quietest will elicit the reply, ‘2.00am’, I find that by avoiding early evenings and weekends the mission can be accomplished without too much stress and I can trundle up and down whilst making a simultaneous, covert study of my fellow shoppers and their habits.
Of course it can be tricky in these straightened times, working out whether twenty washing capsules for £6.25 is cheaper than BOGOF of own brand, or if 89p per pound is a better deal than 60p per packet in point something of a kilo, and one thing we are all sure of is that the price of everything is never going to come down, but I still prefer to get inspiration from the shelves, to poke about, to select or reject-[but not on bank holiday weekends!].