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Corporate chains vs independent retailers

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      19.12.2012 14:27
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      Time to flip the retail coin and bring an end to retailers monopolising markets and trends.

      Shop-till-you-drop in the January Sales?

      'Shop-till-you-drop', is a well-known marketing slogan; although as a debate question, it irks me that it is a prompt to promote consumerism, for the good of our decrepit economy, and for employment security.

      Max-out the credit card, for the sake of spending. 'Spend it like Beckham', and afterwards 'drop'; due to the shear weight of Primark socks - or 'drop' due to collective weight of receipts from closing-down sales. Last 'January Sale' (in December last year; may I add), the retail outlet 'Past Times'; was on the verge of going into administration. My purchases helped enormously with their creditors - notably my purchased ornate gifts are in the loft collecting dust. I realize some tweed cap, moth-balled antique dealer from 'Flog It' in forty years time it will make a few quid. "Ah ye-es, 'Past Times' trinkets purchased in the year 2011, probably forgotten after a 'shop till you drop' January Sale in December; each one is worth in the region of 1700 - 1750 pounds" - "Amazing, what yee find in loft-clearouts, now I'm half-way to getting the 'AppleMicrosoftNokia Data-Vision Tablet Series 12.5'; yeah, wotta find!"

      Sales are the major cause for clutter and clutter is the cause for disorganization, this in-turn can cause stress, and stress can become fatal. I guess that is what they mean by 'drop' - alas, the penny drops. Sales are designed to create a 'must have now' culture, otherwise the ladies shaver may never be in a sale again, and hirsute legs are not a good look while wearing transparent tights, apparently. To stop the dip, dip, dip into your credit; my better-half and I now list items prior to a shopping spree - we bargain hunt for listed items only. The same premise is devised on the weekly shop, accept this time we eat before going to the supermarket. Studies have proven that when an individual goes food shopping on an empty stomach they'll increase their food bill of up to 20% - also this is helped by carrying a shopping-list (as above) your automatically shaving chunks off your credit card bill. What supermarkets don't want you to do is to carry pens hence, why the trolleys are not pen-friendly or predominantly designed to hold small lists. Naturally, device apps are available - so use them, although I've not seen too many shoppers use apps while in aisles - 'don't be a fool - use your tool'. 'Ohh shucks, now I'm promoting consumerism, and amalgamating pro-creation into the melee'.

      Since the industrial age polluted our fragile lungs and minds, the modern market-place is shifting into different cash-cow havens. Today's consumers are being duped into the experience economy, a shopping experience to drop everything for. Campaigns exerting seventy percent off 'selective' products, is the hook - seventy percent off of what price exactly? The initial products launch price maybe, rather than the price a fortnight ago? Now the art of retail is to obscure the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) from shoppers, during sales season (s). Managers claim the price index (PI) for each product, fluctuates continually; (this is incorrect, no mass produced item has variable pricing, while bulk buying). 'Bulk buys' is one the perks of worldwide wholesale - they create the deplorable sweat-shops, flounce children's rights - this is the ugly reality behind consumerism. 'Normally the winner takes it all': namely the global retail machines, but due to the stagnant financial sector, retailers are whipping their 'supply chain horse' harder - just to create the price drop 'illusion'; we (the consumer) are getting a feel-good factor fix from our shopping experience - the shopping experience is addictive. Say a friend asked; "Did you have a great time shopping today?" - Your reply would be; "Yeah, it was great, there were loads of bargains!" In reality, the shops were selling the consumer the 'bargain hunting experience' - only 'selective' products would be valid. The advertised bargains would be few and far between; and usually already in a warehouse by the time you pop your head in and experience a warm burst of shop air-con. Seeking the bargains out, like an adult version of 'hunt the thimble' - within fourteen minutes you'll be queuing-up at a till, ready to purchase the leopard skin leotard. Yet still the Sale offer draws the crowds in - except for the Enochlophobia sufferer.

      Retail marketers especially, nurtures the feel-good factor; they're fluent in the psychological aspect of chemical impulses 'all' consumers have. Coffee shops are purely based on the experience of offering comfort, a caffeine booster, and concoctions of bean choices and ingredients from an internal 'coffee factory' that could have been compiled by Roald Dahl. By stimulating a feel-good factor experience, guarantees repeat business. A campaign for holiday experiences starts on New Years day, the next experience to plan. Consumerism never stops; online shop-tracking collects our shopping habits. How often do you get an email from an online retailer suggesting other products of interest after buying an online product? That information is shared; it is a 'cash-cow' commodity. In the developed world we've saturated money-making opportunities, deals are around everywhere. Consumerism is creating experiences systematically - 'popping out like Gremlins'. On top of Mount Snowdon, sits a glass walled restaurant! I envisage Malls on the moon, where you can purchase your Stella McCartney space-suits - 24 seated Cinema-worlds propped up on satellites, playing 'Star Trek' re-runs as the next generation of consumer shopping experiences kicks-in.

      Could be a good time for a consumerism game-shaker - by disturbing capitalism's apple-cart by infiltrating commerce incentives for SME's (Small Medium Enterprise); designed that they can compete properly. Mass consumerism do not care for ethical agenda's which a high proportion of SME's adopt as an USP (Unique Selling Point). I'm a big advocate for allowing good ethical products the lime-light, designed for the consumer to force illustrious brands out of corrupt habits. A fine example recently is: Consumer-power making Starbucks re-think about their tax behaviour - proving shoppers can dictate heuristic trends overnight. What a refreshing change - 'change' - how novel.

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        02.10.2006 14:43
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        The abolition of retail price maintenance has killed many independent book shops.

        50% off the bestsellers of the month, hooray, that’s great! Or is it?

        You’re interested in literature, like to be up to date, don’t want to be the odd reader out when the latest mega seller is being discussed, don't want to wait until your local library has got the book in question but haven’t got much money or just don’t want to spend so much on a book you know you’ll read only once, what’s wrong with being happy about such enormous price reductions?

        Let’s have a look at the book prices in GB. When in 1995 the ‘Net Book Agreement’ (the abolition of retail price maintenance) collapsed, the promise was that books would become cheaper and the supply better, what happened, though, was that the average price rose by 7.5 %. Only the big chain stores can survive the enormous reductions on bestsellers, they earn nothing from them, they must earn their money somewhere else. Where? Well, they earn it with the ‘normal’ books that are not bestsellers.

        How do they do this? Should you ever come to Germany or pass through (fixed book prices in this country), go to a bookshop, take a paperback from the shelves, look at the clear print, stroke the fine, smooth, white paper, examine the back that doesn’t break at once when the book is opened and you know where money is saved in the production of paperbacks in GB (the same is true for the USA). The covers of British paperbacks mostly look good, the colours are striking but open them and you’ll find print and paper of a quality comparable to the one which could be found in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, this is especially true for thrillers and so-called light reading matter. If you open a book too wide, the back will break, you can be lucky if you haven’t got the single pages in your hand when turning them, the paper is often so coarse and full of wood splinters that you can’t even recommend its use for hygienic purposes. (I know what I‘m talking about, I‘m only exaggerating a wee bit!)

        Why has all this happened? Quite obviously because the big publishing houses and the big book chain stores wanted to get rid of small independent ones - and they’ve succeeded. Three years ago only 13% of the British book shops were still independent (against ~ 70% in Germany), I haven’t got a more recent figure, but it can only be lower.

        What the big book chain stores have done to the small independent book shops Tesco is now doing to them by offering current bestsellers at an even lower price than they do. Books don’t make for more than 1% of Tesco’s volume of sales but they lure additional customers into the supermarkets and that is what counts. The supermarkets cover only about 5% of the book market but the segment they’re successful in is the one concerning bestsellers, it has been said that a book can’t become a mega seller in GB if it isn’t sold in the supermarkets, too.

        You don’t care? You find all these facts dead boring? You don’t mind if a paperback survives only one reading and you’ve got enough tissues in your loo anyway? Well, there are other consequences you should care about. One doesn’t always want to read the latest bestsellers, does one? In a business in which ‘print - sell - bin’ rules keeping older books in stock isn’t of great interest, books are there to be consumed and if they aren’t consumed - away with them.

        If you can’t find a book in a German bookshop, you can order it and get it the following day, the stockists have about one million books on offer, in GB they have about half that amount. It can happen that the books of a British author are translated into German, when the ‘sell-by date’ is reached in their home country, the books disappear from the shelves of the book shops and also the stockists, if the books can’t be found in libraries, they’ve stopped existing, but you can find the German translation for many more years to come, if that isn’t absurd!

        I love small independent bookshops and support them as well as I can. German bookshops also have problems, only recently two chain stores have merged and have thus acquired a lot of economic power but as long as the retail prices are maintained the small book shops have a chance, the moment the retail prices are abolished, the majority will drop dead, there‘s no doubt about it. Every now and then the abolition is discussed and the owners of independent book stores have sleepless nights but up to now the warners and admonishers have succeeded in averting evil by pointing at the scenario across the Channel.

        So the next time you rejoice in the low price of a bestseller, think at what price you’ve really got it.

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          22.04.2006 15:10
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          Some one is watching you.

          Giving You More Reasons To Shop Where Every Little Helps? But Who Is Helping Who?

          Supermarkets.

          Pros – Convenience, cheap(ish).

          Cons – Socially destructive, impersonal, high street mega-killing commercial machines. Places were there are pay offs, rip offs and things nobody saw..

          Supermarkets? Excellent aren’t they? Wonderful places. And they’ve popped up just about everywhere. Few are the places these days, that cannot now boast at least one supermarket, if not a mega-store on the outskirts of the town, then a smaller version on it’s meagre high street, shoehorned between a charity shop and café.

          The superstores are now so big, they can dress up their aisles to make them look like an old fashioned high street, with it’s own fruit and veg shop, a butchers shop (remember them?) and a deli. And let’s not forget the bakers. All with their own experienced and qualified ‘storekeepers’. Even those that aren’t that big have a go. It’s certainly a bit more interesting than browsing your average shelving units.

          There was a time when supermarkets offered just food stuffs or hygiene products. But now you can just about get anything you want from them. Ginormous one-stop-shops for just about everything imaginable. And if you cannot make it into the store, fear not; you can go online and order your shopping via their websites. They’ll even deliver it to your door.

          And the prices? Cheap. There are always price offers, price checks, and discounts to be had. BOGOF (buy one get one free) being particularly prevalent at the moment. The smaller high street specialists certainly have their work cut out keeping up (or down, depending on your point of view) with them. Better still, with the big indigenous supermarkets claiming to offer rock bottom prices, the likes of Aldi or Netto are begging to differ.

          Some supermarkets now offer such diverse services as their own insurance and landline and mobile phone tariffs. Prescription drugs anyone? No problem. They’ve got just what the doctor ordered, with a qualified apothecary too.

          They can also prove to be the main employer of some districts. Some more than others as the trend towards 24/7 opening hours gathers pace. Certainly, with unemployment rising and more and more high profile closures resulting in mass redundancies, the supermarkets will surely prove to be more influential employers as communities become increasingly ravaged by economic recessionary changes.

          With the increasing proliferation of these stores, the opportunities offered to food producers have also increased. No longer having to supply their wares piece meal to hundreds of little outlets, they can supply a national retailer and get nationwide distribution for their products. So, for example some one in, say, Aberdeen can now buy a cream cake that was made in Cornwall the day before.

          Even outside, they offer services for the community. Recycling points for our waste, huge car parks that are free and even a café where you can meet your friends and have a right royal shopping trip experience.

          So on the face of it they can now just about cater for every facet of your life: from filling up your car with petrol through offering you advice on your financial business to catering for your charitable leanings. All praise then to the higher gods for our salvation.

          Oh hosanna!

          It’s “Oh hosanna” all right: hosanna from hells basement.

          So you think the supermarkets are giving you good value for money do you? Maybe you consider them an important attribute to our communities? Well think again.

          These places are multi million (or in Tescos case, multi billion) pound commercial operations with only one thing on their mind. Profit. Be under no illusions here.
          They are after your money, and if they need to use every insidious trick in the book (and some that aren’t; yet) to get it, they will. And stuff the consequences. You and your damn hick town community can go to hell. Just leave them your purse before you go.

          We all know a few of their little tricks to get us to buy stuff we really don’t need. Product placement and all that. So I won’t bore you with it all here. Though I will say, my favourite is a neat little trick using an artificial aroma of freshly baked bread. Brilliant. So simple. What? You thought the smell actually came from fresh bread? Sorry, to burst your bubble but sadly, no. You don’t believe me? Check out the people behind the counter. Do they look like they could boil an egg, let alone bake a loaf? Precisely.

          Supermarkets, especially the monolithic out of town mega stores are nothing more than uber-efficient high street killers. Oh, they preach that they are not, and of coarse claim to welcome any kind of competition, from where ever it comes. But it’s all bullshit. Only in The Bible did David beat Goliath, and Goliath is thankful. In the real world, it’s a very different story. In business, competition is there to be crushed, and in the case of the little specialist high street shops, crushed it is. Mercilessly. Why do you think the stores try to create at least an ambience of the old fashioned market? It sure as hell isn’t to encourage us to nip down the street for half a pound of spuds, believe me. Ask your older relatives, and they’ll tell you they could use any number of butchers (for example) that were within walking distance of their front doors. Then go and see how many there are now. You’ll be lucky to find one within three or four miles.

          You’ll find plenty of charity shops in their place though. That’s handy isn’t it? And even these places are living on borrowed time. Once the supermarkets have found a profitable angle, they’ll be doing the charity-shop thing too. On saying that, those that sell clothing are very often cheaper than the charity stores anyway.

          What the supermarkets are doing is creating an economic environment where we, the consumer, must increasingly rely on them. In chasing the smaller retailers away, and shutting them down, they are guaranteeing their own survival, nay, mega profitability. Talk about creating your own demand.

          Prices! Ah yes, prices. This is what it all comes down to isn’t it. And it’s we, the consumer, who shoulder the blame. Apparently there is a price war going on at present between the supermarkets. I dare say there is, but the war is not, NOT, between themselves, no; it’s a war pitted by the supermarkets collectively against any conceivable competitor. Simple as that. So forget about all the pious chat about high quality service for rock bottom prices. Here’s a point to ponder. Even in the bloodiest shooting wars, the warring leaders are always talking to each other. So if they do, I’m pretty sure the CEOs of supermarkets do as well.

          Yes the prices are low, but the quality of service is nowhere near the kind you get from your little specialist shops. When was the last time a supermarket counter person remembered your name and had your ‘usual’ ready for you? Or even know what your ‘usual’ is? Can’t remember? Never? Precisely.

          So how are these low prices achieved? How can the supermarkets turn such huge profits whilst offering such prices? Here’s a few ways.

          None of the supermarkets make their own stuff. They are retailers, not manufacturers. So they squeeze their suppliers. And one thing they absolutely hate is a supplier who does not exclusively supply them. I work in a cream cake factory that makes exclusively for Tesco. And the tales of the woe and gnashing of teeth when we supply any one else are quite toe curling. The dummies fly out of the pram and the threats can be withering in their frequency and ferocity.

          And should a supplier err from the path of the righteous, then the supermarkets crank up the pressure by such tactics as snap inspections. These aren’t just cursory little jaunts either. The big guns are sent in and go through the factory with a fine toothcomb. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is left unscrutinized. Anything that is found not be to their liking is used as an excuse to instil severe ‘fines’. Or loose the business. Again, the Tesco crew that came to my factory made the Environmental Health people look like teddy bears (two of Tescos mob looked more like FBI agents. They even had the shades. Very Matrix). Believe me, knowing Environmental Health as I do, that takes some doing.

          So when they say they do not put their suppliers under enormous pressure, they are lying through their teeth. Just ask the farmers. There are quite a number of suppliers who, for one reason or another, have had to shut because they lost a supermarkets business, which have just happened to be their only customer. Poor business acumen on their part to be sure. But it hardly backs up the supermarkets’ claim that they are responsible businesses. To be frank, all it needs is a buyer to go to work in a bad mood; y’know the sort of thing, bad hangover, didn’t get a shag last night, and a supplier could very well end up loosing it’s main customer. That is scary.

          I recently heard one of M&S’s top execs telling us that M&S food is brilliant. She made it sound as if M&S actually make the stuff. Well, they don’t. Never have. It’s all made by someone else who probably makes the same stuff for the likes of House Of Fraser et al.

          Do you pay for your shopping with a credit of debit card? Easy isn’t it? Of coarse it is. And I bet you have some sort of loyalty or club card too? And you are getting plenty of points as well. Great. Well, here’s a thought for you. It’s not made so easy for your benefit. The supermarkets can gather an awful lot of information from these cards, not just your cash. They claim to use the information to mould the services and products offered to the needs of their customers. But that’s not all that happens to the personal information the superstores get from these cards. They also sell it on. And it’s a very lucrative business too. You would be amazed at the amount of marketing information that is available about you, yes you. By seeing what you buy, how you buy, when you buy and where you buy your shopping, a professional analyst can create quite a detailed and accurate personal profile on you and your family. Then this information is sold on, very lucratively too. All done without your knowledge, or permission. And don’t think using a cheque will help. It won’t. Only cash will do to avoid anyone analysing you, but then you’ll bugger it up by getting your points put on your club card.

          Cash is loathed wholesale. It is next to useless, and it’s a lot more expensive to process (Securicor doesn’t work for free y’know) compared to using digital technology. I’ve been tempted, but never got round to, demanding a fee for selling my name and personal info without my express permission. That would make a good article wouldn’t it?

          I became aware of this little side business after an early morning news item on BBC Radio 4 whilst I drove home after a night shift. Guess what? The item only got aired once. I wonder why?

          Whilst I’m on about information collecting. The supermarkets, all the biggies are working on this idea, are researching the use of labels. Not ordinary labels. No; these are special miniaturized electronic labels that are built into the packaging of goods or in clothing. The idea being, that info about you is loaded into them when you buy an item, including your name. So when you’re walking around you’ll get pop-ups on walls advertising stuff particularly targeted at you. They’ll even talk to you, calling you by name. And the more you buy, the more they know. Scary stuff. And not only do they know who and what you are, they know where you are too. It’s a long while since I heard about this kind of thing, so it could very well be up and running as I write this. I know it was being trailed as an alternative to warehousemen clocking in.

          To be honest, I don’t understand what all the palaver is about ID cards. Not when we can be identified and located just by our credit cards, club cards and mobile phones. Did you know that satellite technology is such that you can now be nailed to within three inches of where you’re sat reading this? No? You do now. And don’t even think about that satellite box under the telly!

          I could go on, but….

          As I’ve said, in some districts, the supermarkets are quite large employers, if not the largest (as is the case in Bude). And because of this, they can flex their not inconsiderable muscle when it comes to pay and conditions. No overtime payments, no shift allowances. Most workers are part time or job share. In Morrisons case, if a worker has not completed his/her chore, or is not relieved by a colleague, by the end of the shift, they do not get paid for that extra time at all. Imagine that eh? You’re a checkout till operator who cannot go because of the queues, and the person who is supposed to take over from you has not come in.

          Worse, you suspect your supervisor has deliberately given you a chore they know cannot be finished before you go home, but they still make you finish it knowing it’s getting done for free. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. To go would result in getting your P45 slapped in your hand. Not something you want when you live in a place where jobs are like dragons teeth and you’ve no car.

          A lot of the staff are youngsters. Students and the like. Labour that is cheaper and a lot easier to intimidate than older married types with families to feed. All pretty obvious I suppose. But, on the other hand, hardly the behaviour expected from such benevolent bastions of our community is it? It wouldn’t be so bad if the jobs were of any quality or well paid, but they are not. Just the usual shelf stacking etc…

          Anyway, onward.

          I’m a bit of a coffee fiend. I drink the stuff by the gallon, especially fresh ground coffee (posh eh?). Heavily sugared too. So here’s a thought. Until recently, world trade prices in coffee were at an all time low and had been for most of last year. (It’s amazing what you pick up from the news on Radio 4). And sugar was causing all sorts of ructions because the EU kept dumping it on the world trade markets at less than the cost of producing it (subsidies y’know). So how come the prices in the supermarkets didn’t reflect this? In fact, the cost of both went up. The same applies to fuel. Yes it’s been high and getting higher, but the world price of crude oil did drop a little late last year. Did it drop at the pumps? Did it hell.

          So when you see grown women patting their own backsides and ejit actors pretending to work in a supermarket in tv ads, all telling you that there are thousands of bargains blah blah blah take a good long hard look. Nothing is what it seems.

          Packaging. The supermarkets call the shots when it comes to their own brands, and it’s the manufacturers who pick up the tab. So some one has a bright idea about packing changes in, say, deepest darkest Tesco HQ, the supplier pays for it. Nice touch.

          The thing about supermarkets is their ability to wheedle their way into your purse and then hook you in, and keep you hooked in. They do the same to their suppliers until they can do just about what they want because they know that neither the supplier nor the consumer have anywhere else to go.

          Further still, some of them are so powerful that they can actually get the law changed to their benefit. For instance. Clinical research has shown that refrigerated food should not be allowed to be stored at a temperature above 5ºC as it is the highest temperature that keeps bugs under control. That’s scientific fact. Irrefutable. And it was the law. I say ‘was’ because the open fronted fridges in Simsbury’s couldn’t keep the temperature below 8ºC, so Lord Sainsbury had the law changed so that the max temp was 8ºC. Just like that. But, he still expects his suppliers to keep their manufacturing temperatures below 5ºC. Yep, that’s pretty powerful influencing and not just at the BBC. That 3ºC alteration in the law also saved Simsbury’s a hell of a lot of money too. Just think how many fridges they have.

          So which ever supermarket you have in your town, or even how many. They couldn’t give a flying toss about you. No. By all means use them. I do. But do so in the knowledge that to them, you are nothing more than an ant, only there to have your money milked. But milked in the nicest possible way of coarse.

          Supermarkets are a cankerous cancer that continues to spread over this land. Worse, they are now powerful enough to influence governmental policy and are becoming more like Big Brother. Their tentacles can be found leading right to the highest levels of our government. Yes! It all seems a bit conspiracy theoryish (paranoid even? Perhaps, but justifiably so), but you can check it out for yourself. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, no one in business does anything for free, or for the customers benefit. This alone should set alarm bells ringing.

          What amazes me, we all still get taken in by it all.

          Treat with caution.

          Recommended? That really depends on your point of view and how much you care, doesn’t it?

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            03.01.2005 17:50
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            I am following in the footsteps of other Dooyoo'ers who have brought this questionnaire about corporate foodstore chains v the little independents so, here are my answers:-


            Q1: If your food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers – eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

            At present I usually spend around £65 each week in Asda. There is my husband and myself but I do tend to buy the odd item for the grandchildren too. It doesn’t matter how much I vary the food it always seems to end up at this magical figure. Then I may pop into the local shop during the week for the odd item. However, I do tend to stock my freezer every 3 months and also go to Makro for some of my household cleaning items when they are being sold on special offers so this all adds to the weekly cost.


            Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

            There are various farms producing organic meat, chicken and vegetables in the vicinity but they do tend to be quite pricey. However, it has been on my mind that when my meat is used up in my freezer then I am going to one of the organic meat farmers (in the New Forest area) and will purchase some beef even though it is a bit more costly.


            Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

            Well, there is an area for organic fresh produce which is easily found. I do try and buy organic vegetables but the cost of organic meat is just ridiculous in supermarkets. I also try and taste unusual food but sometimes this can be difficult as hubby likes plain cooking!


            Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

            There are various markets around the Dorset/Hampshire area but my favourite market is at Salisbury. It is held in the centre of the town every Saturday and the fruit and vegetable stalls are fantastic. The food is cheap but good. I marvelled the other week when I bought a bunch of organic celery and it had dirt around the base. Fresh, earthy produce. And the taste of this celery was fantastic – like it used to be when I was small. I bought 3 butternut squash for £1 and they were great. In Asda they are sold by weight and I surmised that the 3 I had bought from the market would have cost about £5 in Asda as the supermarket sells the squashes by weight. It takes us about 50 minutes to drive to this particular market (at a leisurely pace) but it is a lovely day out. I also got 3lbs courgettes for £1. Can a supermarket beat that?


            Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

            My nearest supermarket (Safeway) is about half a mile from my home but the nearest regular street market is 3 miles away.


            Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

            Yes. When I first moved to Dorset there was a fantastic little baker’s shop around the corner. It was the only shop in that particular street. The baker’s oven was fired by coal – it was very much an old-fashioned bakery but the bread was absolutely gorgeous. When my in-laws visited us for their holidays they would always buy bread and cakes from this little bakery. Sadly, the baker had to retire (I think he was about 80 years old and was getting tired) and the shop has now been converted to a house. There is a family bakery called Bennetts and they have several shops in the Dorset area but their bread just cannot match the quality of the coal-fired oven of the old baker I loved so much.


            Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

            I try not to eat ready meals these days. Firstly, because they usually taste quite horrible and, secondly, they are expensive. It is actually false economy to keep buying these. When buy something expensive that tastes rotten? On the rare occasions that I eat a ready meal then it is purely for convenience. Perhaps I am in a hurry, been to work and need to go somewhere in the evening so something quick is needed.

            Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

            Not so much these days. Sometimes my husband will have his dinner sitting on the sofa watching TV whereas I may want to sit at the table and read my daily paper. I don’t mind doing this but not every day. Some days we sit at the table, have our meal and a conversation. However, when my daughter visits with her family then we can sit down and have a meal altogether.


            Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

            I have never, ever tried to shop online. Firstly, because I think it is time consuming anyway (a relative spent an hour choosing her food online only for the system to crash at the crucial point of ordering) and I like to see and feel the food I buy particularly my fruit, vegetables and meat.


            Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

            I most certainly do. I always have a supply of fresh fruit on my desk to nibble at during the day and I always have fresh fruit and vegetables at home. I think it is so important to eat these five portions to help maintain our health. I always wash the fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.


            Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

            Sad to say that I am still on my diet (Slimming World) purely because I was overweight, not by much I hasten to add, but enough that I needed to lose a bit of weight.

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              03.01.2005 12:02
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              Having seen a few other of you lovely dooyoo bods bring this one over here from 'the other place' I thought I would too!!

              SO... here goes!!

              Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers – e.g. supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

              I would estimate that between my chap and I we spend our budget half-and-half. I live in the city and only realistically have access to major supermarket chains as I never get home before 6pm, but I do get organic free-range eggs from a bloke I work with! My fella lives in a small coastal town that is not particularly close to any supermarkets, except for a smallish Co-op, which I have never considered to be a proper big chain supermarket


              Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

              Samphire is grown on the North Norfolk coast… I adore it. Known as a poor man’s asparagus it has a wonderful subtle flavour and juicy green flesh. Served with butter and vinegar it is a delicious wholesome treat in the summertime

              At weekends we often have locally caught fish, which are completely wonderful; nothing like the tasteless pap that has been frozen or transported far too far in big supermarkets


              Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass-produced? Do you buy any? Why?

              Sadly the majority of the food I buy is mass-produced. However to my delight, when I spend weekends at my fella’s it is quite the opposite, as there is an independent butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, bakery and health food store in the small town. We both prefer food that is natural and not mass produced. Each Friday will find me travelling southwards with my fresh free range eggs and each Saturday I get them cooked for me for breakfast and served with organic wholemeal toast… yum!


              Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

              I have never been to street markets I my area, we do have a large market in the city centre, but there is very little food there. In the small town I visit at weekends there is no street market, but I gather they have a farmer’s market once a week in a local hall. On holiday in France we always buy fresh food from street markets; it is irresistible when you can smell it all in the warm summer sun



              Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

              My nearest supermarket in town is Sainsburys, only about a four-minute walk, however since Easter this year I have been back to Sainsburys only three times. I loathe Sainsburys with a passion as they make it so hard to buy the ingredients to make food… it is so much easier to buy stuff in boxes than to fight to get what I was looking for.

              At Easter Tesco opened an ‘Express’ store in place of my local corner shop. I may not approve of the idea of large conglomerates like Tesco, but I have to admit I can see how they have their market share. They took over a scruffy run down corner shop with useless staff and now we have an air-conditioned mini-supermarket with a great range of food for its size and the same staff as before but who are now competent and happy looking. It is a great little shop - a real old fashoined corner shop in atomsphere where all the locals chat with the staff, yet it has the advantages of good training and benefits for staff and the benfits of Tesco's infrastructure to ensure a wide range of produce

              I don’t have a street market near to me in the city or nearby in the small town I visit at weekends, which is a great pity as I really enjoy browsing through them, picking and choosing fresh foodstuffs and chatting with the stallholders


              Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

              In the city I buy Tesco bread as it is delivered warm each day only a minute’s walk away for my house. At weekends we buy from an independent baker or more often form the small health food store who do a lovely range of wholemeal and organic loaves

              Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

              I hate ready meals! They are always such a disappointment. I find them particularly over seasoned as I never cook with salt or pepper or put it on my food (except for dumplings or with vinegar on fish and chips at the beach!)

              I occasionally succumb out of sheer tiredness and a pack or two will sneak into my basket. The only ones I have ever enjoyed at all are macaroni cheese and luxury rice pudding, but I would still prefer home made ones

              Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

              It varies. I live with my seventeen-year-old son who has an enviable social life so we are not often eating at the same time; on the odd occasion we do manage to hook up we do eat together and have a civilised sociable meal. We try to get together for a meal out at least once a month so we can catch up, relax and chat and share a bottle of wine together

              At weekends my partner and I always eat together. He is a great cook and I have spent many happy hours on a stool is kitchen sipping wine while he prepares wonderful meals all made from local produce. It is like being on a permanent holiday!


              Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

              I do all my food shopping off-line. I just don’t think I could trust anyone (other than my partner or son!) to choose vegetables or meat properly! Since I usually walk to buy food shopping I am limited by what I can carry so I save money this way by cutting back on impulse buys. If I bought online I am sure I would end up spending far more than necessary just because of the ease of clicking to buy items!


              Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

              I wish! I am not very good at the moment. My diet varies a lot. If I am happy it much better, but at the moment I m very bored and so I am snacking a lot. Not a very good idea I know, so I am trying occasionally to buy carrots and mange tout with dips to snack on at work


              Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

              I’m not on a diet. I have a low tolerance for milk so I don’t tend to wolf vast quantities of it but that is it as far as any allergies go. I am currently having a really bad doldrums in my eating habits. I am eating far too much rubbish and snacking really unhealthily out of sheer boredom, tiredness and fed-up-ness! Silly really, because I know if I improved what I was shovelling down me I would begin to feel better and crawl out of the doldrums!

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                02.01.2005 12:41
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                This challenge was originally started elsewhere, but I see it's come over here so I've decided to join in too. My answers aren't what I'd hoped to give since I'm trying to get more ethical these days but here goes.


                Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                Unfortunately I'd say close to 95 pounds (if not more) would be spent in the supermarket. We don't have any good independant retailers round here. The few we do have are unhygeinic and sell stale, out of code produce. I also live within walking distance of five supermarkets, so that's my excuse for my sins.



                Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                We used to have two breweries but one got shut down. We also have a couple of fishermen in the area, but that's about it.



                Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                I buy from the breweries but I'm not a big fish eater so don't eat the fish. If you count a bit futher north than where I am theres a great dairy, and I do buy their cheese because that is delicious - a premium product though.

                There's a shop in one of our local malls that specialises in home produced preserves, drinks, sweets and jams - I do sample some of the stuff in there and have enjoyed it, but they're rather seasonal treats as opposed to something that you'd eat every day.



                Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                There's a market once a week that sells traditional farm produce, but it's mostly meat and I'm vegetarian so I don't really go there.

                I'm in Newcastle, and they come up from Durham, which has a lot of small independent farms. I hear the stuff is good if you eat meat. There's more markets in the Durham area but they're too far for me to go on public transport for what benefit I'd get from them.



                Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you?re nearest frequent street market?

                The nearest supermarkets are about 30 minutes walk from me (two pretty near to each other). If I walk in the other direction there's another one the same distance away, then if I go an extra 10 minutes I can find two more.

                The street market I mentioned futher up is once a week, and that's about 40 minutes walk away too.

                Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                There is an independent baker right outside my door, but I'd rather starve than eat their bread. Seriously.

                I've been to some nice bakers while I've been on holiday, but I'm not blessed with such a thing in the area I live. Its a shame because well done home made bread is something I could develop a taste for.



                Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                I do sometimes. I'm vegetarian though and veggie ready meals taste even worse than normal ones!

                The problem is I'm a skint student so I just eat whatevers on special offer most of the time.

                I'm trying to get better, I'm eating more jacket potatoes, sandwiches, pizzas where I buy just a plain base and put fresh toppings on, that sort of thing. When we get a new oven in a couple of weeks I'll start eating more pasta too - at the moment our oven is a bit of a deathtrap.

                I'll eat certain ready meals out of convenience, and, believe it or not, price (ready meals keep fairly well and if you buy the bulk special offers it does work out cheaper than fresh food if you are in a small household where most of the fresh stuff would end up wasted.). The healthier eating plan is in operation though.



                Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                My husband and I kinda eat together - one or both of us cooks, then we pick up the plates and eat in front of the computer. Yes, we're both geeks and this arrangement works well for us.



                Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                Food shopping gets done offline, mostly because I can't afford the delivery charges, and I'm really picky about use by dates and quality of fresh produce. The one time I ordered online I got dented cans, bread that was use by the next day when I wanted it for later in the week, and bruised fruit and veg.

                Not impressive.

                Generally food shopping gets done at whatever supermarket we're passing through, although I do have a preference for Tesco for their organic stuff. I'm getting more concious of certain issues too so I'll probably start going to the Co-Op more often since they're more ethical in certain ways.

                Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                That's a tough one - I try, but I don't know if I a always make it. If you can count the same type of fruit or veg more than once I probably do, if not then I'd say probably no.

                I drink a lot of orange juice, and I eat a lot of onion. I also eat a lot of peppers and tomato, but other stuff doesn't tend to come in that much quantity. For example I've never figured out how much mixed salad or coleslaw would be needed to make a serving.

                It's a nice guideline, but I don't count portions or anything.



                Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                No diet here. I can eat whatever I want and I'll stay just the way I am, which is very skinny.

                Sometimes I wish I could gain a bit of weight just so that I would be able to fit into sexy clothes!


                OK so there's my answers, I look forward to reading anyone who chooses to take part.

                =======The Questions==========
                Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you?re nearest frequent street market?

                Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

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                  29.12.2004 18:14
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                  There was a recent challenge on another, unmentionable opinion site initiated by others, who wondered how all everyone did their food shopping. On behalf of A.N. Other, I've put this challenge in my cyber shopping basket to bring to the dooyoo checkout. (Being a man, I hate shopping – except for books and records – but I’m sure you all know that already).

                  So here we go.

                  Feel free to join in and to make it a little bit easier, the questions are at the foot of the page so you can C&P them for your own entry.


                  Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                  £100? Chance would be a fine thing! More of it goes to supermarkets than it should. We do use a very nice friendly corner shop-cum-delicatessen down the road (we live in a large village/small town in Devon, population c.3000), though I fear we do tend to take the easy way out more than we should, partly for reasons of pressure of time and the need to cut bills. Living on low incomes with horrendous builder’s bills to pay all at once, etc. etc.


                  Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                  Lots of very good organic pates, cream, a local crisps manufacturer called Burt based at Kingsbridge. A local weekly market also does wonderful South Devon sausages in various flavours which are always well worth getting. Happy Hogs, I think the name is.


                  Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                  We do find some local produce, mainly dairy and vegetable products, which we always make an effort to get. They may be slightly more expensive than supermarket brands, but (hopefully) the right people get their cut.


                  Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                  Partly answered in 2 above. As far as I’m concerned, all power to their elbow!


                  Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

                  Nearest supermarket is a very small Co-op about half a mile away, but it’s more expensive than the nearest KwikSave (5 miles) and Tesco (9 miles). Nearest frequent street markets – the Buckfastleigh one referred to above (6 miles) is nice but very small, so I suppose it’s down to the large ones at Plymouth (18-20 miles).


                  Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                  Sometimes – we do have an independent local business, which is very good. Forget the name.


                  Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                  Regret to say yes. Sometimes time doesn’t allow otherwise!


                  Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                  Together when we can.


                  Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                  We’ve started doing a Tesco shop online. We pay a little extra for the privilege, but then we do save on fuel and the need for a special journey, not to mention the usual parking aggro and all that.


                  Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                  No. Nice idea in theory but maybe not in practice. As regards fruit, I’m always tucking into clementines, satsumas, whatever they’re called at the moment. I quite like oranges, but the pips spoil them, and peeling them is hard work. Apples – as long as they’re slightly sharp in taste, I love them, but my pet hate is a mushy apple that tastes like cotton wool.


                  Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                  No. I’m one of those people you hate – the sort who can eat a bit too much and not put on weight. But I’m always frantically dashing around so much I make other people feel dizzy, and that probably burns it off. I think I’ve got that sort of metabolism. And I don’t have any allergies (well, extreme stress caused by being told to answer other half’s mobile phone is (a) off-topic, (b) probably doesn’t count).

                  Ignore the three-star rating. I don't think star ratings really count in challenges.


                  ___________________THE QUESTIONS___________________


                  Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                  Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                  Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                  Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                  Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you?re nearest frequent street market?

                  Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                  Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                  Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                  Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                  Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                  Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

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                    20.12.2004 12:09
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                    This is a survey set by Jillmurphy and French Can Can on 'another' site all about food and shopping...why don't you have a go!

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers – eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                    I know what the ‘right' answer here should be, I know that supermarkets are in general bad for small producers and the environment etc. and locally grown produce should be bought if possible but I’m afraid that in the end convenience does mean that the supermarkets get quite a lot of my £100 budget…say £70. I do tend to buy bread, meat, fish and vegetables from smaller retailers when/where possible but it’s not always possible. I do try and buy fair trade and organic if I can from the supermarkets.

                    Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                    Yes plenty. There is locally caught fish from the fish market and there are plenty of farm shops some organic including the organic meat company that trade locally. Although fairly close most our slightly out of town so getting to them on a regular basis is difficult.

                    Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass-produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                    Since I spend most of the budget in the supermarket I suppose most of it is mass produced although the supermarket where I do mostly of my shopping does make bread in store as well as having a good Deli and fish counter…I don’t tend to buy processed food if I can avoid it so generally I make food from basic ingredients. A little time set aside for this can be very rewarding and good well prepared home made food tastes much better then out of a plastic pack!


                    Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                    We have a very good fish market and a decent fruit and veg. market fairly near us. I do go there form time to time and the experience generally is good; cheaper prices and mostly better quality than the local supermarket. The drawbacks are it does take longer to do the shop and parking is not so convenient.

                    Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

                    The nearest supermarket is about 1.5miles away the nearest market is 2miles away. not much in it but if you are doing a lot of shopping and wish to take a car then the parking for the supermarket is much better...

                    Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                    Generally most of the bread I buy is disappointing, there are a few good bakers around but they are expensive and the quality although better than the local supermarket is not that much better to justify the price. Making your own is the best idea. Nowadays with lots of affordable bread makers around it is quite easy to do.

                    Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                    No, we tend to make everything from fresh ingredients. I think the convenience is a bit of a red herring. Most home prepared food doesn’t have to take that much longer to prepare than throwing a plastic packet containing plastic food in a microwave. Ready meals are not good for you! They are usually full of salt even if they are from a ‘good’ brand, one leading brand of luxury organic soup was found to have more than the RDA of salt in one carton. You also find high levels of fat, chemicals and preservatives…. anyway in general home cooking tastes better.


                    Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                    We always eat together. There’s five of us three growing children all at school with plenty of after school clubs and activities, both I and my partner work full time so it’s not always easy to converge to the dinner table at the same time but we do and when we do the TV/radio goes off and we talk…

                    Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                    Offline once a week, it all takes about an hour and half and then it’s over for another week. I have tried online but I find it a hassle and I generally like to look and feel what I’m buying. I’ve also found that online we invariably get replacements that we don’t want for stuff we have ordered which is out of stock.

                    Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                    Yes just about most days. Fresh fruit with breakfast, usually chopped up in cereal. Fresh fruit at lunchtime along with fruit juice and green veg with the main meal in the evening…it’s not that difficult really.

                    Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                    No. I do a lot of exercise and eat what I want but sensibly; I've recently tried to cut salt from my diet as much as possible but I've never had a weight problem and I don’t have food allergies.

                    There you go...it's as easy as that. Go on have a go!

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                      19.12.2004 09:48
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                      There was a recent challenge on another, unmentionable opinion site which was initiated by French CanCan and JillMurphy. Basically they wondered how all everyone did their food shopping. Proxam has been given permission by JM herself to bring this challenge to dooyoo.
                      So he has and called his review Proxam Chopper.

                      Feel free to join in and to make it a little bit easier, I've posted the questions at the foot of the page so you can C&P them for your own entry.



                      Q1: If your yearly food budget were £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - e.g. supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                      It must be about 98% and this will get even more soon as they are planning to close our local fish market which is the only place I know that you can get fresh fish outside of the big supermarkets. When possible I do try to use the local butcher but the opening times of the big supermarkets are so much more convenient for me and our local shop is now a Tesco Express anyway.

                      Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                      Not a bean, sausage or pear but someone who has lived in the area longer may know more.

                      Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass-produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                      I do tend to purchase free trade products for tea, coffee and sugar but these are not easy to fid and often get moved around on the shelves.

                      Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                      I do visit the occasional farmers market just to get some variety and to support the local industry and the variety of locally produced sausages is great. Other than that the local market has the same stuff every few stalls, crap mobile phone stuff and dodgy Ali G clothing.

                      Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you’re nearest frequent street market?

                      The nearest supermarket is about a two-minute drive while the market is in the centre of town about 20 minutes away. The main problem with this is the cost of parking.

                      Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                      There are no independent bakers in my area outside of the supermarkets it is the big national chains like Gregg’s. I did dabble with a bread maker but it is now gathering dust with the sandwich toaster and the waffle iron in the land of pointless kitchen purchases.

                      Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                      I never eat ready meals, neither myself or the children have them, if we want something quick then I would go to the take away which is a rarity and always seen as a treat.

                      Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                      Always eat together at the table, this culture of eating separately and in front of the TV is not something I will allow in the house, call me traditional but if the children are distracted they do not eat as much and as youngsters if=t helped make sure they had good manners.

                      Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                      I have always shopped for food in the store so that I can check the quality although a recent leg injury meant I had to shop on-line which was only convenient when they delivered the right things. This was a one in ten success rate; still I did get some free stuff as well.

                      Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?
                      Yes all of the time.

                      Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                      I tried Atkins last year and lost about 2 stone and none of it has come back on, I’m back eating normally now however I eat a lot less bread and potatoes and do not miss them at all.

                      Thanks for reading my review.

                      ___________________THE QUESTIONS___________________


                      Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - e.g. supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                      Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                      Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                      Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                      Q5: How far is you’re nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

                      Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                      Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                      Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                      Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                      Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                      Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

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                        18.12.2004 16:59
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                        Corporate chains vs independent retailers

                        What?
                        oh...it should read SHOPPER. Sorry about that. But now that I've got your attention...

                        There was a recent challenge on another, unmentionable opinion site which was initiated by French CanCan and JillMurphy. Basically they wondered how all everyone did their food shopping. I've been given permission by JM herself to bring this challenge to dooyoo.
                        So I have.

                        Feel free to join in and to make it a little bit easier, I've posted the questions at the foot of the page so you can C&P them for your own entry.



                        So, without further ado let's take a wander through the bargain basement of my shopping patterns. Checkout the review, aisle bet you think I'm a basket...case


                        Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                        A: If my yearly food budget was only 100 quid, I think I'd be spending very little in supermarkets. I'd probably splash out the best part of that budget on one of those long coats with the poacher pockets and a false arm...then pinch all the food I needed.
                        But, knowing that the question relates to percentages and not actual figures, I'd say 99%.
                        I live in a new town with one of the largest shopping malls in the UK and one of the largest supermarkets (Asda/Wal-Mart) in Europe. But, in this town of over 60,000 souls, there is not one fishmongers, butchers, fruit&veg shop, etc. We don't really have much option without getting in the car and traveling.


                        Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                        A: Highlander crisps.
                        Apart from that, not really. The M8 corridor is hardly prime agricultural land!
                        Just remembered, there's a Patersons shortbread factory in Livi, the smells from there are pretty amazing!


                        Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                        A: I think everything is mass produced to varying degrees, isn't it?
                        I'll buy cheese from small producers, and beer from small, independent breweries, but I can't think of anything else, although I'm sure there must be.


                        Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                        A: The nearest street market to me is at Bathgate - the smuggled tobacco and fake goods capital of Scotland! Honestly, sometimes you can hardly move for customs and excise officers going about their business.
                        They have an excellent car boot section, but I tend not to buy second-hand food generally, so I don't suppose that counts. There are some really good fruit & Veg stalls there though. Some of the butcher stalls are a little dodgy and I wouldn't buy anything from them.


                        Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you?re nearest frequent street market?

                        A: The nearest supermarket is about a few hundred metres away. In fact, I can see it right now. The street market about five miles distant.


                        Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                        A: Do you mean an independent baker as in Greggs? (Which is actually a large chain). If so yes. There are no small bakers anywhere nearby and I'm not making a special journey for a loaf of bread.


                        Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                        A: Not really. I find that convenience meals are anything but convenient and generally taste like shit (not that I'm familiar with that particular flavour) . I only use a microwave for de-frosting and/or warming something up.
                        For goodness sake, how long does it take to boil up a bit of rice...pasta...potatoes?
                        It's a cinch to make your own 'convenience-type' food. Just load it up with MG, fat, salt and sugar and there you have it...at a fraction of the cost.


                        Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                        A: Always together- always at the table, and almost always from plates - circumstances allowing of course.


                        Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                        A: Offline. At a shop (hence the terminology). We live right next to the town centre - we can shop, bring food home, eat it, let nature take it's course and repeat the process long before they could even load a van up with our order.
                        I've never even considered buying food online.


                        Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                        A: No idea. I eat my food, I don't count it.
                        I eat lots of fruit and veg, but I don't subscribe to someone's notion that you should eat five portions a day...how ridiculous! What do they mean? How big are the portions? Does a wafer-thin slice of cucumber count as one portion, or what about a whole pumpkin? Utter tosh! Really, how do they measure this? It couldn't just be that some under-worked, over-educated boffin is just playing the system and topping up their research grant by coming out with garbage like this, could it?
                        It's like telling us that we should drink x amount of water per day. What they fail to mention is that food already contains water. What percentage of a potato is water? Follow the 'experts' recommendations and you're in serious danger of drowning...unless you suffocate under a mountain of lettuce first.


                        Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                        A: Yes, a seafood diet...you know how the rest goes.
                        Everything in moderation is the key.


                        ©proxam2004


                        ___________________THE QUESTIONS___________________


                        Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers - eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                        Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                        Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                        Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                        Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is you?re nearest frequent street market?

                        Q6: Have you ever bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                        Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                        Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                        Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                        Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                        Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

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                          13.11.2004 10:08
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                          I spotted this category and thought how similar it was to the ten question challenge Jill had set on how you shop?

                          Now the comparisons in general relate to why we shop in supermarkets, and why I shop at indepenent shops, such as the bakers, street markets and similar outlets.

                          Maybe I am off the mark here, maybe not, but here goes.


                          Q1: If your yearly food budget was £100, how much would you say you currently spend in big retailers – eg supermarkets? Explain why you spend so much or so little there?

                          £100! £100! You’re joking right? No, seriously a year right? You meant a month didn’t you? Tell me you did girls, for god’s sake, TELL ME YOU DID!

                          *sobbing dies down to a mild hysteria*

                          Okay, there is a reason behind your madness, so I guess I will play along with it for now, you sadist mistress in a leather clad outfit with thigh length boots and a whip , with you faithfull servant by your side and… [Jumps in cold shower and returns minutes later]

                          If I had £100 to spend on food, I would have to change my eating habits and also my shop. Shopping at Tescos mainly, not just for convenience, but for their range and prices. I feel I would have to shop at Lidls, where quality gives way to affordability. I would have to be forced to grow my own vegetables, which means taking organic tips from our very own Felicity Kendall, Murphy herself.

                          At the moment I spend about £90 per month, but I get my meat from Makro, where steak is usually about £2 a pound. Frozen chicken breasts are a snip and used in a stir fry, curry or similar, you get to stretch about a £1’s worth to a meal for two. Veg I buy from Tescos or the COOP, usually weekly and at a spend of about £4.

                          What I do not understand about your question, is what will I spend if I have only £100 a year, or how much do I spend now? If I had to break it down to £8 and pennies a month, then I have to say that it would be a struggle. I do not drink milk, rarely eat bread, so my personal spend I could control so easily.

                          What I normally spend in Tescos is veg £16, Fruit £5, Milk (Sherry) £6, Fish £10, Sauces, herbs, £6, Pasta, rice £2, Tinned food £3, Cat Food £10, Wine £50, and other stuff whatever.

                          As I said earlier, it has to be convenience with Tescos. I find it easy to park, has good variety, quick checkouts, and simplicity. I am not an evangelist like you Murphy, and I enjoy BIG.

                          Oh, I get it now Dur, well, it looks like £99 of the £100 goes to those supermarket type people Jill, sorry! :o(


                          Q2: Are you aware of any food produce(s) made in your area specifically?

                          Oh yes, we have so many different farm produce shops that I pass by each day, that I do not think there is a product I could not pick up organically. Sherry and I enjoy strawberry picking in the summer, but in honesty, it is cheaper to buy them from Tescos than it is to pick them yourself. Mind you, they get a bit narky with you in Tescos when you sit there and eat a punnet first.

                          I do like home grown produce, and often buy of the markets, but these farm shops are so extortionate in Dorset/Hants/Wilts, that I refuse to pay over the odds for products that I have to pick myself or that I have to travel out the way to buy. For instance, a bag of mixed peppers (Capsicums) at Tescos is £1.15. You get about 5 or 6 in the bag. One home grown organic pepper from the farm shop is 60p. I agree they are larger, but still no where near where they should be to justify the hike in price.

                          The three counties that surround me are high in the agricultural ladder of produce and you would expect cheaper prices, but the fruit shops and market shops tend to cash in on the organic hype that we seem to be veering towards, and I won’t be conned out of my money to line the pockets of over-zealous traders.




                          Q3: Within the shop or shopping place where you spend the greater part of your food budget, can you find those area specific produces which are not mass-produced? Do you buy any? Why?

                          To be honest, I do not even bother looking anymore. Shallow? Yes, maybe, but I just don’t think that the difference is that important to me. I look for the fair price (is that what they call it) on bananas and coffee, but again, I rarely buy products that are covered under this banner. My vegetable supply is normally onions, mushrooms and capsicums, so I am limited to what I can do to help the cause really. I hate to think of people being underpaid and cheap labour is a problem that needs to be addressed, but not by me, by the supermarkets and the countries that let people exploit their workforce.

                          It is a political thing, as we all know how corrupt our government is, never mind those of third world countries, but I am also of the belief that we are exploited by the British consumer with their please for pay that bit more for less.



                          Q4: Have you ever been to a street market around your area? If so, what did you like/dislike there?

                          I love street markets, and love to tour Germany, Holland and Belgium around this time to see the Christmas markets, aren’t they fantastic? This year we are off to Brussels for Christmas Eve, day and Boxing Day.

                          I love markets because of that feel you get when you walk around and look at all the wares. The various smells that hit you from each of the stalls. Feta cheese and olives, fresh bread, continental cheese, herbs and spices. Can’t you just smell them now?

                          I hate markets when, once more they exploit the consumer with their pretentious organic ploy to make you pay more. At a local street market in Southsea, they had home grow organic potatoes for 60p a pound! 60 bloody pence a pound, can you believe it? When I picked potatoes as a kid in the summer of 1980, at a field near Yapton, I got a penny a pound. I would pick about 100lb in an hour, so made about £5 a day, which then for a 16 year old, was good money. Imagine then seeing how much they were selling them for? It would have broken my heart. I remember though our local shop selling them for 5p a lb, which I thought fair. Using this calculation, they would be paying me 12p per pound of spuds, and I would be making about £12 per hour. Anyone want that job?

                          We have a French market that comes to Poole key once a year and sells (ahem) French food. You pay twice the price for a French stick that is delivered to them by the same suppliers as your local shop!

                          That is why I love and hate markets.


                          Q5: How far is your nearest supermarket? How far is your nearest frequent street market?

                          I have a Tescos about 1 mile away and another 2 miles away. The coop is about 600 yards, Safeways another 200 yards past that. Sainsburys is half a mile away and Asdas about 3 miles.

                          Although the COOP is only 600 yards away, I find their prices high and their choice limited, but it is convenient for fresh veg, and they do have a nice selection if I am honest. I normally pop into the Tescos which is 1 mile away on the way back from work, even to get just one pint of milk. So that store is like my local shop. The other Tescos is further but a hell of a lot bigger and more open to park. Obviously due to the size, they have more selection and more products available, which helps, especially with the wine. Safeways or whatever they are called now, Morrison’s is it? Well, they are okay bur parking is terrible and I find them a bit over priced. Sainsburys I just don’t get. They are not cheap, poor selection and miserable staff. Asdas is good for clothes and stuff, but not really for food, and again, parking is an issue.

                          We do not have a regular street market locally, but we often go to Wimborne market, a weekly market that is in and outdoors with about 200 stalls. This is about 8 miles away, but is extremely good for clothes, fresh produce and rare records and videos. My trick with this place is go just as they are closing and they fill your carrier bag full of veg for £1. Parking is easy as we have a secret parking space about 100 yards away which only the most special of special people know, and that would be me. (Note: The author may joke from time to time so please do not take him too literally!) I like to take my mother here, as there are big crowds and we can lose her easily.

                          Q6: Have you ever-bought bread at an independent baker? Do you have any independent baker nearby? What do you think of these?

                          Oh god yes, I love fresh bread, and I love the local bakers. Bread baked on the premises is a rare thing now, but having said that, Tescos bake their own bread and it is cheap as well. No, our local baker bought a car from me many years ago, and whenever I am passing, I like to check out his wife’s bloomers, they are a bit big mind, but once you get through the thick crust, its bootifull!

                          Although Tescos bake their own bread, you can not beat the taste of a local loaf. Pick it up last, take it the half a mile home, slice it, stick some turkey ham in it, mayo, lettuce and off you go, what a delight.

                          I always find that even though a loaf of bread is a wee bit more than a supermarket, the bakers always have a queue outside and their cakes never make a Saturday Lunchtime. Luckily for me I do not have a sweet tooth, so when that last strawberry tart goes, and Sherry’s face drops, I can have a snigger to myself and maybe treat myself to one of those bacon and cheese wraps that they do. I like the atmosphere in the bakers as well. It has to be one of the happiest places to work. I rarely walk into a miserable bakers shop, anyone else find that?



                          Q7: Do you eat ready meals? If you do, is it for convenience, taste or other reasons? If you don't, why don't you?

                          I make my own ready meals, does that count?

                          I buy frozen freschetta pizzas, but that is where ready meals end for me. Even with those, I take the toppings off, add fresh mozzarella cheese and chopped onion, some oregano and a shed load of crushed chillies. This ceremony is carried out every Sunday night and has become a tradition in the Reid household, accompanied by a nice Shiraz, Merlot or if we are feeling lucky, a Rioja.

                          As for ready made meals, why? Why pay so much for so little? Convenience to me is chucking a diced chicken breast into a wok, adding a mountain of chopped onions, mushrooms and capsicums, a touch of soy, chilli and a magnitude of various herbs, spices and whatever else takes my fancy, and chucking some rice in a pan, then frying it is Olive oil with an egg and more soy. How simple is that? 20 minutes and a meal for two!

                          I use to have convenience food in the navy, Pot Noodles, Vest Curries, Microwave burgers etc, because we had no facilities to cook, but now, I am not lazy enough to entertain the thought of sticking all those additives and preservatives into my stomach when I have alternatives at hand. The last time I bought a take away must have been 3 month ago, just prefer to cook. Gets me away from Eastenders and allows me to slice up onions with names of people I do not like, you do not want to know what I do to spud Murphy’s!
                          .

                          Q8: Do you eat together as a household, or separately?

                          Together, as it is the best time of the evening, when else can you get a woman to be silent for twenty minutes?

                          Naaa Haaaa!

                          She would kill me if she read that. Seriously though, we love sitting down and enjoying a meal together, even better than going out for a meal. We are just having an extension/conservatory built to house our rather large dining table, so that we can enjoy socialising even more.

                          We like to sit and talk as well as eat, and it’s easier to relax when there is no television or other distractions to lure your eyes away from your partner. When my kids come to visit, it’s the same. T.V. off and dinner at the table! We sometimes play games afterwards, even cards, but values are far apart these days, and trying to get a 16 year old girl to join in is not easy, but fun! I am from the same boat as others when I enjoy winding my kids up and making them rue the day they were ever born to my seed.

                          .

                          Q9: How do you do your food shopping? Online or offline? Why is this?

                          I buy so much online it is unreal, but never food. I like the journey to the shop, it’s actually enjoyable to look at various new lines and see what improvements there are in food and exotic fruits. You cant squeeze an onion on the internet, nor can you look at how ripe your bananas are, how fresh the capsicums look, are they starting to shrivel, are the mushrooms white, or starting to patch?

                          My main enjoyment is walking down the aisles and spotting a new and exciting sauce that has cropped up, especially in the Chinese food section. I always buy the new stuff, get it home, dissect it and then develop my own brand for future meals.

                          I am the same with the wines, picking a bottle up, dusting the label off and reading that description (you know the one? The one that is about 50 words long, would get a UH on Ciao, but we buy the wine by reading it! There’s irony for you!) and tasting the words as you think of sipping that strong plum flavour, or that matured oak aroma, my oh my, how can they do that on the internet?



                          Q10: Do you eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day?

                          I always have difficulty with this five portions of fruit thing.

                          How many fruits and vegetables make up five portions? If I have a spoonful of peas, is that a portion? What f I have two, is that two portions? How can a banana be classed as one portion when a plum can be one portion? How many carrots make up a portion? What vegetables are classed and what fruit?

                          I eat two bananas a day, drink two sups of lemon tea, eat salad, and may have a jacket potato, so I would have thought I come close to it, but do not eat individual portions of the stuff. I stir fry veg as well, but am informed this does not count as the nutrients tend to stay in apparently, so I am unsure if that counts. I would say my diet is healthier than most, with fish at least twice a week, never fried, I rarely eat chips, either have salad or peas and sweetcorn, even leeks with my food. I only deep fry my onion rings! I still love chips though, just want to get my waste line down to a 34.



                          Q11: Are you on a diet? What sort of diet? A lose weight regime? An allergy regime?

                          Am I on a diet? No, not really, but I am watching very carefully what I eat. I guess it is more a lose weight regime, but you can only lose weight by exercising and eating carefully, but I have stopped drinking lager and beer, choosing to have wine and red bull with vodka. Unfortunately, my exercise and weight loss have uncovered a separated rectus muscle in my stomach, which sticks out like a Nik Nak advert thingummy and the hospital say there is no point operating on it, and when I do lose more weight, it will protrude even further! Gawd, sometimes you just can’t win no matter how hard you try!

                          But I try to run 15 miles a week and only drink 3 nights a week, which is usually 4, depending if I have a bad customer day or like today, when Sherry’s company once more decide to make redundancies. (She is safe though this time, we think)

                          I truly believe in this day of computers and convenience, we all need to take a look at how we eat, what we purchase and how we purchase it, and I do believe this to be a useful challenge rather than a waste of time challenge, so I gave it a shot.

                          Hopefully this will help you both with your SWAT analysis, and to be honest, it has made me think a bit about what I eat and how I shop, so a big thanks and cyber hug/hand shake to you both.


                          Angus “was once a warrior” Reid.

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                            07.08.2003 21:32

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                            I hate the way that the towns and cities have all started to look the same when it comes to shopping. I also don't like the fact that the bosses of the big corporations get mega money in wages and the staff are forced to work for near minimum wage. I liked it in the past when I could go into a local ironmonger or greengrocer and have an expert tell me what was the best thing to buy, like what potatoes were best for chips. Now it seems that many of the small shops have been forced out of business by the big boys and it looks like they will never be coming back. There are some advatages to the corporate chains of course like cheaper prices because they buy in bulk from manufacturers, and the fact that like with supermarkets they can sell lots of different things under one roof. I suppose another advantage is that they have a chain of command which means if you have a complaint that isn't sorted you can go to someone higher until it is sorted. Local shops can decide by one person if your complaint is valid. I don't think that the big shops are necessarliy costing jobs, but they certainly take the personal touch and character out of shopping. I like to use independants whenever I can, but budget and time retraints mean that sometimes it isn't always possible which is a shame.

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                            15.06.2002 01:02
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                            Updated ***********See end********** I drive to the out of town shopping centre because I'm afraid to walk down the high street in town because the only people there seem to be crack heads. I park two miles from the door on the massive car park, an expanse of ashalpht, in front of little sapling growing out of the kerb. AAH, innit sweet! After a brisk walk, avoiding old ladies in Austin Allegros trying to reverse in parking spaces, I arrive at the huge revolving door. Am I supposed to make a blood sacrifice at this point? Anyway, I enter, the noise hits me; the kids screaming, the wonky trolley wheels creaking, the mothers saying " 'tay 'alf chep tho bab" (I'm from Wolves), the rows and rows of check outs bleeping, the spotty students sitting blankly at their screen in garish tabards. Hooray for holiday! Oh look, 'no such thing as a free lunch' at half price! 'Society Crumbling', buy one get one free. 'Mass paranoia', only 9.99! I whizz round and get my orange juice concentrate and a bag of kitty litter, a piece of string and a lighter. Did you know they actually pipe the smells of fresh bread etc in to the store. It's not the smell of the bread you can actually see, stupid. (you're telling me you enjoy this experience? Do you enjoy the streets not being safe, farmers griping on, the rainforests being screwed, roads and soot everywhere, global warming imminent.) I walk the long, lonely walk to my car and drive across the carpark to the huge, resplendent gym. I do 20 minutes on the treadmill, on the town setting; the treadmill moves as if you were walking through crowded streets, up and down kerbs and stopping to chat to friends. (Did you know they film you while you shop? Little cameras gauge your responses to packaging, shelf height, those smells again and a myriad of other parameters. The people who do this shop too. They breathe in and out. They actually exist.
                            Do you think they want to? It's statistically probable that you look to your right when you walk into the shop. Do you sleep with your chin above or below the sheet at night?) After my workout I drive back across the carpark to buy a Maccy's. It tastes alright. I leave my litter to a fat pigeon, it won't fit in the bin. It's not like it will fit in the landfill anyway, right? On the slip road I turn right and park. Well, I don't actually park but the traffic is static so I may as well. I don't feel like listening to music today; sometimes I play my music really loud to bother the people in front and behind me; to see if they think I'm a bit of a Kevin, like. Today I'm refined. I put on Jimmy Young on radio two and listen to the phone in debate and the news. Street crime is up apparently, so is drug use, so is depression, so is voter apathy, so is public fear. Oh Jimmy Jimmy why do you hurt me so? (Would he have mugged her if you'd have been on the pavement too? Would he have punched her? Would she have got her ambulance before she got her haemorrage? Would she have kept her pension book?. Would her husband have had to iron his best shirt or be brave in front of his daughter?) I know this is ridiculous moralising but was llife always this shit and shallow? Are you really happy that you've got a CD Changer but you're afraid to walk to the offy at night? UPDATE ******************************* Due to a danish nutter (Only joking Ophelia), I've been forced to update. I recommend you give Chain stores a wide berth not because they're worse shops (superficially they're far more convenient) but because they are highly detrimental for our society. In the long term is it good for our country if all the proceeds of our consumption to go to a select and extremely powerful few who don't even spend their earnings in this country? Don't forget you have to earn money before
                            you can spend it. The independent shop route is less efficient which creates more money for people to spend in my opinion. The onus is on us to do something about this; either by by deliberately supporting the independent stores or by trying to set businesses up that compete with the big boys on service and value. Just because McDonalds is cheaper up front than the local 'caff' doesn't make it cheaper in the long run. There is, as they say, no such thing as a free lunch. (OK so I've used more cliches than Ron Atkinson. So what?!) Laylo

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                              20.03.2002 16:50
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                              "Do you sell food at this supermarket?" was the question I asked one of the store assistants, as I found myself stood amongst a display of high tech electrical equipment in my local Tesco. Of course it wouldn't be fair to just talk about Tesco when all the big supermarkets are doing the same thing, selling more and more electrical, household and financial products etc. In this opinion I will write mainly about supermarkets as they were probably the first 'corporations' to threaten and eventually put out of business the independent retailer. Also, at the moment they have the larger range of products on offer and are probably doing the most damage if you like to our town and city centres. Although in essence you could also apply this to the large out of town retail parks with the superstore size electrical, DIY, carpet and furniture retailers. Okay, now for a little historical and trivia interlude, cue cheesy 70's style supermarket music - In the good old bad old days to have a greengrocer's, fishmongers, butchers or bakery nearby was a bit of a luxury and usually adorned many a high street or street corner. Also on specific days of each week shopper's could/would visit their local market to buy their fresh produce, meat, fish, bread etc. Eventually, as the population grew, the demands on these retailers and market traders became great and there would be more customers than the store/trader had supplies. Something had to be done. In the good old U S of A the 'Supermarket' idea (a self-service market) was born in about 1916, with the first supermarket opening soon afterwards, and the idea was catching on fast. Soon the idea would catch on here in Britain too. I suppose quite a few of you out there remember stores such as the Co-op, Spar, Mace and Fine Fare? I can't speak for city folk but those were the types of supermarket we had in the towns, and I am onl
                              y talking about 30 years ago or thereabouts. I seem to remember (as a kid) that the Co-op used to be the larger of these types of stores, well it was in the area I lived, followed by Fine Fare. The Spar shop came next with Mace being the smallest. However the Co-op then, being the largest, would be hard pushed to fill 1 or 2 aisles of a modern supermarket today, this is how far and fast we have come. Here is another example for you - In the very early 80's I used to work for a supermarket chain, and the store I worked in had a couple of years previously been classed as the third largest supermarket in Europe, yes Europe. By the late 80's it became one of the smallest and was closed down, sold off and the chain built a larger store on the outskirts of the town. How many times has that happened? My mother, bless her, keeps banging on about the 'donut' effect on Towns caused by chainstores and the likes building larger stores on the outskirts of towns and/or cities leaving nothing in the middle. She is right of course, how many Town centres have had the 'hearts' ripped out of them leaving behind streets of derelict premises? Anyway I am sort of digressing here, let me get back on track a little. So, where are we, oh yes, Co-op, Spar etc. Now back then these food stores seemed quite large and the choice overwhelming, but we got used to it. Of course the Department Stores were already established by now and sold a vast choice of products for the home - clothes, fabrics, ornaments, furnishings, crockery, etc. Mind you in most cases you still had to go to an electrical shop/store for TV's, Radios, Washing Machines etc. a Carpet Store for er, um carpets, and a Furniture Shop for your…well…furniture. So now we move on, and it was inevitable really, when you look at it properly, that supermarkets were going to get larger, and in the spirit of free enterprise were going to start
                              selling a vast range of products. But, not just food products though, oh no, what these corporations had in store (sorry, couldn't resist) for us was much grander. I couldn't really tell you when 'it' happened, 'it' just did. I can't really remember in what order things started to change either but I will try and describe them. Apart from the obvious demise of our trusty local greengrocers and butchers, as Supermarkets sold everything they did, with greater choice and cheaper prices, the beginning of the end of our nation's 'greengrocer' status and the decline of other business' went something like this - Supermarkets sell Milk, Eggs and other Dairy products - goodbye milkman Supermarkets, now larger, could stock and sell more such as Beers, Wines and Spirits - goodbye off-licences Supermarkets sell Newspapers, Magazines and Smoking products - goodbye newsagents (WH Smiths not included as it is mainly known as a bookshop nowadays, and shops like 'Forbouys', 'Dillons' or 'Menzies' have had to resort to selling other lines/products to keep going) Supermarkets sell Fresh bread and cakes - goodbye bakeries I think you get the picture, and of course this does not include all the financial products that Supermarkets sell, and the Clothes, Music CD's, Videos, DVD's etc. etc. etc. Then on top of that you can now shop in some supermarkets any and every hour of the day now that 24 hour opening is becoming the norm. Another nail in the coffin for independent and small businesses. Okay, bear with me, nearly there - do you realise all this was going through my head when I found myself stood in a supermarket, that I was used to selling food, but now found myself amongst a display of products that you would normally only find in Comet, Curry's, Dixon's or any other electrical type store. The enormity of that hit me when I
                              went to my local supermarket, like I said at the start, and what greeted me at the front of the store prompted me to say 'Do you sell food at this Supermarket?' to a nearby assistant. Now, at this time I had been living abroad for the previous 2 years, so the changes in Britain were a little shocking to say the least, which includes the range of products one can buy from Supermarkets. In the first 5-6 months that we were back we slowly got used to seeing Supermarkets selling VCR's, DVD players, TV's, Microwaves and other electrical/non-electrical items. So why was I shocked to see what I did in my local supermarket? I mean I had been prepared for it hadn't I, just like every other consumer. What greeted me at the entrance of this Supermarket was a display of Computers, all boxed and ready to go. They had a display price sticker on them that you would normally see on a display of Fruit or Vegetables or such like, and this is what made it look all the stranger to me, and quite bizarre. It wasn't just the latest Pentium, Something Gig Hard Drive, Something MB RAM, 56K internal fax modem, something-Speed CD/DVD blah-d-blah computer that was being offered no, there was also a display of Scanners and Printers for sale nearby too. 'How would that fit in a shopping basket?' was my next thought. All I wanted was some Fruit, Milk and Bread! Some of you might say 'Yeah, so what?' and I would agree somewhat, it just hit me funny when I saw it. I am not against progress by any means, I am all for it, but some things, to me anyway, belong in a certain way and not appear as this did to me as it did then. It surely would be just as strange if you walked into your local electrical store only to find yourself confronted with a fruit and vegetable display, wouldn't it? I just wonder when this madness will end? Of course in the bigger picture all this choice an
                              d competition is good for us, the consumer, right? The only problem is as these corporations get bigger then even more smaller businesses go under, unable to compete with lower prices and special offers. Near where I live a brand new 'Tesco Extra' has opened and it sells just about everything, the problem is a number of people have complained that there isn't a lot of food to choose from because most of the space is taken up by non-food items. The thing is this new Tesco superstore is the third Tesco we have in quite a small area. We have this Tesco Extra on one side of town then a Tesco superstore on the other and a Tesco Metro in the centre of town! The other complaint is that in a store that large there is too much space, too much to choose from and it takes forever to do the shopping. So now many people are starting to reverse the trend slightly by going back to individual shops for different things, but of course they are only delaying the inevitable. Now the corporations have almost killed off the small businesses they are now turning on each other, where will it end? One day, sooner rather than later probably, we will be able to walk into a store and get absolutely everything we need under one roof, what a thought eh? In fact at about the same time, if not earlier, you won't even have to leave home, as you will be able to log onto 1 website and get everything you need there. In conclusion I would say that whilst progress can be good in cases like this it is not necessarily the case because of the void these corporations leave behind in the pursuit of profit. I would like to see these corporations more accountable and replace or regenerate town/city centres in some way. By the same token town councils should be more responsible and community aware before allowing these places to be built, ensuring these corporations do give something back in return like schools, nurseries or other type service
                              s for the community. Oh well, life goes on I suppose, I better go now as I need to get some Milk from 'Curry's', Fruit and Veg from 'Halfords' and Bread from 'B&Q', as I forgot to get them earlier!

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                                14.03.2002 19:15
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                                I am studying Business Economics so to say that I don't know anything about what makes businesses do what they do would be stupid! Firstly there are very few actual small independant shops left. I remember growing up in a really small village where the biggest shop was a safeway on the main street which did good business. They also had a 2 bakery's and a freezer food shop. So what happened was Safeway only sold limited amounts of bakery goods as it could not compete with the fresh bakers across the road and the freezer shop monopolized the frozen food market. Then along cam the huge ASDA store a bit further away but easily accessible by bus, taxi and car. The businesses started to decline losing revenue to this huge supermarket and last time I visited the Safeway had closed down and only one of the bakers survived and it has been taken over by Greggs! The problem is that people are lazy and want to visit one place to get everything they need! they want it to sell anything they require which is increasingly becoming reality with the huge Tesco's and the recent take over of ASDA by Wall mart means that there will be even more available, (Wallmart actually sell pellet guns in their american stores!). Okay we can say this harms local communities and takes away small business revenue leaving people without a business to run but lets veiw the benefits, The ASDA employed the majority of weekend staff from the local school giving them extra money to comtinue their eductation and experience a job at the same time. It created numoruous jobs and also attracted other big businesses around it a cinema, DIY store, etc and the knock on affect is that the otherwise run down industrial estate is now a leisure complex and shopping precinct. Prices are another positive thing and who can argue that these big business don't offer the best value for money around? Now we take the other big businesses, Nestle perhaps, they exploited mot
                                hers in third world countries by advertising that they're powdered milk would be better for their babies than the breast milk. This resulted in them trying to buy this powdered milk at huge prices that were unaffordable to the normal family and this led to mass starvation and a lot of people were seriously ill and even died as a result. That was a huge company that exploited people to the extent of, basically driving them to death in the persuit of Profits! There are many other examples of how huge companies exploit child workers and pay poor wages and crap working conditions to lower costs and earn a bigger profit to pay a huge dividend to the already rich shareholders and executives within the company. I do have to admit however no matter how bad big companies are, If they offered to pay my tution fees for my masters degree next year I'd happily sell my soul to Starbucks! But the only way to rectify the problem is to infiltrate the route cause and change things, but don't tell them that!!! steven

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