Not Only Food

We all know that prices are going up. Fuel, Gas, Electricity, nothing ever seems to go down. Those same price increases are beginning to impact on food prices too, as anyone who has recently done a ‘big shop’ at a supermarket will tell you.

On the 21st of March, we went to get our regular weekly shop at the huge branch of Tesco in Dereham, the supermarket we use the most. Julie came with me on that occasion, as I am still unable to drive. I had my list ready, and didn’t buy any ‘extras’, or anything on impulse. I was also only shopping for six days, not seven, as we had something in the freezer for one meal that week.

After packing everything away at the checkout, the total bill came to £97. ($128) Bearing in mind there are only two of us, that seemed a lot. On the way home, Julie remarked how much it had gone up from the previous week, and that we might have to start thinking seriously about reducing our bill by buying cheaper things.

When I got home, I decided to check the till receipt in detail, and realised that a large percentage of what we had bought was not food at all. The breakdown was something like this.

Antibacterial Spray. £1.50
Bin liners. £2.40
Liquid hand soap. £1.50
Shower/bath gel. £2.00
Toilet Rolls.
(9-pack) £5.00
Kitchen Roll.
(2-pack) £3.50
Bleach. £0.50
Toothpaste. £2.60
Deodorant Can. £1.70

Total £20.70 ($28)

That brought the shopping bill down to £76.30. ($100.50) Of course, I don’t have to buy everything on that list every week. Some of those items will last longer than seven days.

Then there was Ollie to consider, if you have a pet.

Bag of dog food pellets. £4.00
Box of Bonio Biscuits. £1.60
Treats. £2.00
Fresh chicken for his dinners. £4.50

Total £12.10 ($16)

Take that off the shopping bill, and we were left with a new total of £64.20. ($85) That is a little over £10 ($13.16) a day for food for six days for two people.
Seen like that, it is actually not that bad.

10 Items Or Less

I had to pop out to the supermarket earlier. I only needed fresh bread, some of Ollie’s treats, and a packet of bacon. So I went to the nearest supermarket, not the one I regularly use.

It’s always busy on a Saturday afternoon of course, but that doesn’t bother me. I haven’t been out of Beetley since Monday, so a short afternoon drive is a welcome change.

The queue to get in was unusually long. Even with the pandemic restrictions, there have rarely been more than a few people in front of me. But today it stretched the entire width of the large car park.

Luckily, it moved quite briskly, and when I got to the front, I mentioned ot the security guard that it was unusually busy. He nodded. “Mother’s Day tomorrow, always packed out the day before Mother’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, presents and cards. You know they leave it until the last minute”.

Inside, the store was much busier than I had expected. But as I only had four items in a basket, the long queues at the checkout didn’t concern me, as they have a ’10 Items Or Less’ counter right at the front. As I approached that checkout position, a woman aged about thirty suddenly swept in from the side, pushing a trolley full of groceries. She sneaked in front of me, and began to quickly unload her items onto the belt.

Ignoring her rudeness, I did however become quite annoyed when I saw just how many items she was unloading. I started to count them as she placed them down, and stopped at 27. Then she added some more, including a huge box of bottled beer. Catching her eye, I said “Did you leave school very young?” She looked puzzled, and mumbled “Sorry, what did you say?” “You must have left school before they taught you how to count”, I continued, pointing at the huge sign above the checkout. ’10 Items Or Less Only’.

Blushing red under her small face-mask, she ignored me, and loaded her things into bags. When she had paid and left, I asked the checkout lady why she hadn’t challenged someone who had more than three times the number of items. “Not allowed to, sir. Besides, for what I get paid, it’s not worth my while getting stressed out arguing with customers”.

You had to see her point.

Phone Shopping

You can be forgiven for thinking this is about using some 21st century App to enable you to shop by using your mobile phone, (Cellphone) and either collecting the order, or having it delivered.

It has got nothing to do with that. It is about how so many people can no longer do something as simple as a grocery shop in a supermarket, without being glued to their mobile phone throughout the time spent in the shop.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to get a week’s supplies at the big Tesco supermarket just outside Dereham The Covid-19 restrictions are still in place of course. Queueing outside until allowed in, then a one-way system up and down the aisles, with constant reminders to keep six feet away from other shoppers. All very sensible.

Except that at least 60% of the shoppers seem to beieve that this gives them time and space to still browse aimlessly, being completely ignorant to those of us patiently waiting six feet behind them until they have made their selection. Then there are others who seem to treat a huge supermarket as an extension of their own living room. Glued to their phone throughout, constantly stopping to chat on their mobile, or using it to show someone goods they may or may not choose to buy.

Some examples from yesterday.

Woman about 50 years old, six feet in front of me, with an almost empty trolley, making no attempt to shop.

“Yes, and did you hear about Mike? Yes, that Mike, Val’s husband. Well Val phoned me when I was in Morrison’s earlier, and Mike’s home from hospital. He was in for two days, and Val was sure he had it. Yes, -it- the virus. But it turned out it was just a flare-up of his asthma. Oh, okay, ring me back when you have answered the door”.

So she had already been in another supermarket that day. So much for essential shopping. I didn’t wait for her friend to ring back, just walked past her and picked up the milk I needed, as she eyed me nervously for breaking the six feet rule.

Forty-something woman on some version of Live-Chat. On speaker, so I could hear both conversations. She was blocking the whole row of fresh chickens, chatting to her daughter.

“I dunno, Mum. Show me it again. Duck legs? Is that like chicken legs, or that duck we have in pancakes from the Chinese? Dunno if I want duck legs, Mum. Show me something else. Oh yeah, those barbecued wings look nice, but get two boxes coz Danny will eat one of those on his own.”

I decided not to wait to find out what else Danny wanted, and leaned over the oblivious woman to select a chicken.

Young woman in the new-style checkout queue that was snaking around almost the entire back wall of the store. She was dressed as if going to a night-club, though it was 4:30 in the afternoon, with painted on eyebrows making her look like Groucho Marx. She had only four items in her trolley.

“I tell ya, this F-ing queue in Tesco’s is a joke. If it doesn’t move soon I’m just gonna dump this F-ing trolley and walk out. Some of these people have got like trolleys full of stuff, you wouldn’t believe how much shit they have bought. No wonder there are so many fat cows in town”.

She seemed to be unaware of her own size, which was at least a size 20. And she was seemingly unaware of the fact that the queue was actually moving quite quickly in front of her. She preferred to stay where she was, complaining to her friend that it wasn’t moving.

There were more, but you get the idea.