Saturday, May 03, 2008

Supermarkets, Friend or Foe?

"Loss of consumer choice
Supermarkets like to say they are about choice, but they restrict choices to meaningless areas. We may be able to get 120 types of sugar-coated breakfast cereal in Asda or Tesco, but there's no-one who knows the difference between de-scaling a fish and skinning it, or how to prepare a rising rib of beef. Neither is there anyone to ask, as your local shopkeeper might, how the hip operation went, and how many A-levels James got.

We like the fact that we can get the latest Harry Potter book at half price from Tesco, but don't like the fact that competing bookshops are closing down. They stock thousands of titles rather than just 20 but lose money because no-one comes to buy the top-selling titles from them. That's a real loss of consumer choice.

To my mind, the threat of supermarkets transcends the Lilliputian tools of regulators, and is best described in the language of the conservationists: a threat to retail diversity from a dominant species.

The butcher, the baker, the jobless maker
There are many large towns in Britain now without a single independent greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger or baker. The skills which combine baking with business are being lost. Butchers retire and the shop closes, even when it has a loyal clientèle, because there are few apprenticeship schemes to encourage a new generation in the craft."

Though this article talk more of a British culture but I am sure we all can relate to it somehow. I remember when I used to be in England, on weekends I used to visit local market, where they would have brought freshly grown organic vegetables, home made cheese, uneven count of eggs, sewing and embroidery stuff, but unfortunately most of the crowd one see if of old age. Youngsters would rather go to malls, supermarkets or play XBOX at home, such a sad state we moving into..