Marc Allinson: Supermarkets rule the world, but only due to our apathy

Related tags Supermarket Wal-mart

If you were to go back only 30 years, before the supermarkets grew to the colossal size that they are now, if you wanted groceries, you would go down...

If you were to go back only 30 years, before the supermarkets grew to the colossal size that they are now, if you wanted groceries, you would go down to the local shops, visit the greengrocer, butcher and small friendly general store (still called supermarket, but not remotely resembling the monstrosities you see today). You would see familiar faces, chat to the staff, get a considerably healthier, better quality of product, usually locally sourced and without the chemicals and packaging to make sure that our now oh so sensitive eyes would not have any idea where or what it came from. Heaven forbid you realise your steak was once part of a cow.

Nowadays though if you want your shopping, I admit it is more convenient, one trip in the car, one payment, and its done.

However I do feel that we have sold the soul of our communities for what in the end is a little easier, but far worse on the environment and social lives.

Whereby in the 80's Ian, my local butcher used to pride himself on only selling the best cuts of beef from his own and his neighbouring farms, nowadays I have to go to Morrison's to see some uninterested face looking over a counter tarted up with some banner to look like it may have been separate from the rest of this aircraft hanger sized clone building, and they have the cheek to highlight and shout about maybe 10% of their produce being "locally sourced" while deep down we know that they have screwed the farmers down to the last penny.

I have watched as over the years they have gradually taken apart one healthy stand alone industry after another, but they have done it so slowly that few people noticed. It started with small hardware items; suddenly family run electrical shops and hardware companies were out of business.

Next came music, they started selling a few lines of budget CD's and DVD's in the bargain bin, now we have lost Woolworth's, Zavvi and a whole host of independents. Then it was clothes. Who goes to the local market when they can buy a jumper from ASDA for under a tenner? Now they are into the alcohol trade and the electronics. They can never stock the same range of products that the independent, or specialist companies do, but they compensate for this with their prices and aggressive marketing. My local Tesco has just opened an electronics department. They are obviously targeting the Curry's and Comet down the road, but if you can get a TV in there on offer as you buy your milk, then why bother going elsewhere.

The pattern never differs, they go in there cheap and hard, using their huge buying power and the fact that they can sell at a loss due to the other departments supporting them, undercut the real traders until they go out of business, and then increase prices back to the original market level. We have less choice, good traders with sound businesses are gone, and supermarkets have another industry sewn up.

There are no experts left to advise you what you need and how things should work, only an acne ridden checkout girl who couldn't care less if you dropped down dead in front of her.

So all of you people who think the supermarkets should be able to sell beer at below cost price, "because you have the right to buy it" just think, will it still be cheap when all the pubs are gone and they don't have to compete with us anymore.

Let's get real people, the supermarkets should have their wings clipped, they are already too powerful and hold far too much sway over the people who run this country. If something is not done about it soon, they will control every aspect of our lives, they already sell us our insurance, finance, telecommunications, fuel and furniture, as well as our groceries. They create barriers to entry, stopping any competition, and those they cannot beat, they buy out. This level of monopoly is not good for the country or the populace, and maybe restricting their ability to sell alcohol at below cost is as good a place as any to start.

Related topics Legislation

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