I bet you think you make the decisions over what you and your family eat and drink. I hope this article will make you think twice.

Supermarket logos 1

My first question is – where do you do your main shopping? The answer is usually the same. It’s one or other of the main supermarkets, whether it’s on-line or in their stores.

So if you think about it, you could only purchase items they have on their shelves (or website). This is the first limit placed on you from the start. Each supermarket carries out stock rotation. I’m not just talking about putting out fresh stock of the same line, but rotate the varieties they have for sale in their stores. For example, one store will carry out a specific item for a while, sometimes on a special offer, whilst other stores do not stock it. After a couple of weeks or so, that item is removed from the shelves, and as if by miracle, that exact same item will now appear as if by magic in a totally different supermarket.

This exchange of items means that one item will be in only one store at a time, and this seems to be happening with a lot of items.

You should always keep one thought in mind when you shop in these stores – Which items are not on the shelf?

Supermarkets are now in a position to control exactly what is or isn’t on their shelves, and as a result, what was previously the RRP (Retailers/Recommended Retail Price) and the MRP (Manufacturers Recommended Price) are no longer applicable. These have now been replaced by the HMCWG, or How Much Can We Get. Prices are now controlled entirely by the supermarkets. As a result only high profit items reach their shelves, although they will include major popular brands which they know their customers will expect to see. or they will go elsewhere, but they then counter this by producing their own brands of the same products, hence increasing their sales and profit margins, whilst reducing the sale of the original item. A clear example of this can clearly be seen with something as simple as Heinz Baked Beans. This item is always available, but right next to them are the store’s own brand of baked beans, cheaper than the original.

Baked Beans Heinz 1

The price of Beans?

The supermarkets have now turned the increasing of prices into a fine art. How many times have you been looking for an item you have bought regularly, and all of a sudden the item has been removed from the shelf only to be replaced by a multi-pack which is dearer than buying the same number of your original product?

How often have you seen a ‘Special Price’ which was higher than the price previously charged?

Another more recent trick is to hide their own brands giving the false impression that they have been produced in a farm, or under healthier and/or greener conditions, which are often totally misleading.

Only recently the price of milk was in the news headlines. Small dairy farmers were simply going out of business because it was costing more to produce milk than the farmers were receiving from the supermarkets for the milk they provide.

Dutch milk

One thing I would love to know is how many items have been turned down by supermarkets which we could have enjoyed if it were truly a fair marketplace.

Even if we come off of the food shelves and go on to other items they sell. Lets look at Books, CD’s and DVD’s. The majority of these stocked are those in the stores’ own generated Top 20 or Top 50 list. Where are all of the other items which deserve as much marketing?

What about clothes? How come the vast majority of clothes sold by the supermarkets now seem to be their own brand? Are so many manufacturers out of business, or are the stores being clever and only stocking those which ‘compliment’ their own lines?

The supermarkets are now also selling crockery, household items, Banking services, mobile phones,pharmacy, in-store cafes, televisions, insurance services, and the extras which go with them, and the list goes on.

The supermarkets will argue that they are encouraging fair trading, making services easier to obtain.

I ask, are they really just lining the pockets of shareholders and their board of governors?

The real problem is that the general public have allowed this to happen over the last few years. People like to have everything in one place. In other words  they have become too lazy to shop in a High Street where you would have had a wider range of items on offer, and the personal service that comes with them.

Closing Down sale 1

Now we have shops closing in high streets all around the country, when they can’t possibly match the services you can receive in the local supermarket. Why is that? I believe one of the biggest contributions is the opening of smaller ‘local’ branches of the supermarkets. Local shops could have survived when supermarkets were located outside of  town centres, but once they started moving mini-supermarkets into the high streets, local shops are sadly doomed, tightening the grip the supermarkets have on the public purse.

Unless the general public wake up to what’s happening, there will no longer be a High Street.

Only the shopper has the power to stop this process, and the way to stop it is to shop in your local high street more, but not at the supermarket, or local mini-supermarket. But will you do it? I doubt it.

Closing Down 2

(Photo: BBC)




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