Supermarkets have undoubtedly changed our lives. They have integrated themselves into society rapidly over the past years, and we use them on a day to basis almost constantly. There are around 92,796 grocery stores in the UK according to a research report, which can be split into four sectors: Convenience store; Traditional retail; Hypermarket, supermarkets & superstore; and On-line channel. Since being introduced in the 1960’s, they have come a long way forward in the UK life.
The supermarket was a major change for consumers; instead of going to multiple shops to pick up all of your goods, everything was in one place for you to buy. And then the amount of products on offer had been increased from what the consumer was used to. So there was much more offer available to us. Mollie Tarrant, a commentator for the British Market Research Board, noted in 1964 that: “To an unparalleled extent, the housewife can also shop for food, household goods and other things in the one store. Inside the supermarket she is in a new and exciting, although to some people a confusing, atmosphere. She may shop to music or relayed sales messages: she is confronted with new products, daily bargains, unusual forms and colour combinations in packaging and increasingly new methods of display.”
So what draws us in to supermarkets? For them to become so popular, there has to be a driving point behind it all. Is it through the advertising of their services? The ease of the customer seeing positive reports on said supermarket, with multiple figures being thrown at your face? The ability to order your items on the go without having to worry about going out? Or is it the cheap prices that are on offer to you for a variety of items?
Well really it is a combination of everything. The consumer is a funny person, where anything that seems good, we are drawn into. I know for a fact that when going food shopping, cheap prices are what keeps me coming back.
However, are supermarkets really that cheap compared to other places? Well it turns out no. We are fooled by the ‘price-comparison’ to come shop, where in reality real food markets are cheaper. There have been multiple blogs set up in order to show this. http://nosupermarketchallenge2013.tumblr.com/ and http://treadingmyownpath.com/2013/09/06/one-reason-why-i-dont-shop-at-supermarkets/ talk about why they don’t shop at supermarkets any more, and why it is actually better to put your money into the local markets instead. This thought process is so big even the Guardian covered this idea last year detailing how someone made the choice of not visiting a single supermarket in a whole year and how it changed their life.
So it’s clear that we know about this. It’s remarkable to think that when we complain about money issues today, we will still spend more on food when we could be saving by going to markets that sell at better prices.
Yet why do people still insist on shopping at them? Really it’s down to a busy point of view. Supermarkets are able to focus on the supply and demand the customers want. In some local markets you don’t see any of the top brands being sold.
When I walk around Coventry Market, I don’t see items such as Coke, Crisp Brands, Chocolate and so on being sold at all. Rather it is more home grown, healthy items being sold. But if I was to walk into the Tesco’s just across the road, straight away I’m being tempted by all these big brands.
Yet it’s not just down to being able to sell brands. Convenience is a major point where why traditional markets are beginning to decline. You can’t get everything you want in one go; want those crisps/sweets etc? Sorry you have to go somewhere else to get them. But you can get some of the basics here.
Supermarkets are able to eliminate that problem and have it all under one roof. Yes you might lose that human interaction with the sellers, but hey, you got everything you needed in one go.
Supermarkets have changed our lives for the better. There is no denying that at all. Yet we have to think about the small independent shops and markets, where the atmosphere and interaction is unique. How long will it take before we realise what we are missing, and will it be too late then?