Fibrotown is a town of plenty when it comes to supermarkets. There are three within spitting distance of each other in the main shopping strip and two within a block of that. Five.
In the inner-city suburb in which I used to live there were two, to service probably three times as many people. Not too sure what the collective noun is for supermarkets – a cashola of supermarkets? A clutch of supermarkets? A ker-ching of supermarkets? – but we have one right here.
In theory, then, we should be a hotbed of competitive shopping. The residents of Fibrotown should be at the forefront, the pointy end, of ‘keeping the bastards honest’ (to borrow a phrase) and supermarket prices down.
Only, if I’m anything to go by, we’re not.
Mr3 and I were out getting some exercise today (aka, avoiding the housework) when he remembered he needed a juice and I remembered we actually did need milk. And garbage bags. And…well, you probably don’t need my shopping list, but suffice to say it wasn’t all going to be found in one aisle.
Being in a cheery, ‘what a nice day’ kind of mood, I didn’t go out of my way to go to my usual supermarket (admit it, you have one too), but just wheeled on in to the closest one. Big mistake.
A different supermarket is like a foreign English-speaking country. Think the US, where they talk our language but drive on the wrong side of the road. Or England,where they call soccer football, and football rugby, and AFL a very strange game. Or Scotland, where they deep fry perfectly good Mars Bars.
In other words, it’s all strangely familiar, but you can’t quite get your head round it.
It took me three times as long to buy my few items than it would have done if I’d taken the time to walk across the street and go to my ‘usual’ supermarket. And we forgot the juice because I was so flustered by the time I found the garbage bags, in the cooking aisle (?), that I just needed to escape the place. (I know, I really need to get out more.)
We get mountains of junk mail every week. Catalogues and brochures and special offers. Each week, I go through them, noting that olive oil’s on special at supermarket A, coffee’s reduced at supermarket B and you can buy a vibrating armchair and bag of mulch at supermarket C (no prizes for guessing which one that is). I kid myself that I will make like a true budget shopper and chase those specials up.
But I won’t. Because it just takes too long. I refuse to lose an hour of my life wandering around a strange supermarket to save $3 on Vittoria. Sooner or later that $3 special will come to my supermarket and I’ll just save it then.
Which is why I want the ACCC to keep watching those supermarket Big Boys with a beady eye. Somebody’s got to keep the bastards honest.