Supermarkets vs. local shops
To many, supermarkets are an integral part of modern-life, but should their expansion be at the cost of local stores? TheSite.org looks at the pros and cons of supermarket shopping.
Time savers: Let's be honest, life without supermarkets would be total hell. Gone are the days of trawling the high street all day long, and now we can fit shopping into our busy schedules. We're not even restricted by opening hours, with many supermarkets now open 24 hours.
Choice: Supermarkets now offer the choice of up to 40,000 lines - everything from economy to niche products at competitive prices; they provide free car-parking, home deliveries and internet shopping. And you can get supposed seasonal vegetables all year round.
Transport links: There are bus schemes; a number of outlets offer taxi services; and some are investigating outlets on estates, although high crime is putting them off.
Affordable: Supermarkets have reduced the cost of some grocery shopping and made one-time luxuries into basics, which means many of us whose outgoings often exceed their incomings on payday do not starve.
Overkill: Supermarket competitiveness can harm local food economies that sustain our market towns and villages, the food producers who supply them, and the people who depend on them. Their monopoly position in the market allows them to dictate how much they pay farmers, while at the same time seeking out cheaper food from abroad.
Exclusive: Not all consumers are in easy reach of a supermarket. Hard as it may be to believe, there are those who have no car, no internet, and whose shopping budgets are too small to qualify for home deliveries.
Unsociable: The glazed expression of a supermarket check-out girl does not offer the social contact and conversation that can be found in a local shop, for some this is there only brush with other people they get each day.
Local shops: When superstores open, small shops close. Not always, but it does happen, especially when ridiculously over-sized stores open on the local shop's doorstep.
Freshness: Local markets and shops tend to stock fresher local produce rather than the standardised symmetrical blander vegetables you will find in supermarkets.
Fixing the local/supermarket divide
The industry has put together a code of practice to monitor the relationship between retailers and suppliers. All supermarkets, where they can, will use local suppliers. But it is paramount that these suppliers comply with appropriate legislation; that the quality of their products is first class and that production is adequate for the stores' needs. The supermarkets have not wiped out the local shops; they just mean that you, the consumer, are not totally dependent on them. If people want to keep their local shops alive and well, shoppers will need to buy more than the odd loaf and a tin of beans from the grocers at the weekend. Even so, it's likely that many will continue to shop at supermarkets because of the convenience and choice.
Article produced by the Choose Action Alliance.
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