Giving up the supermarket: advantages and disadvantages

On Tuesday my blog post announced that from Sunday 10th March I aim to be supermarket-free for 28 days. A brave, bold move (for me) but one I hope I will be proud of on completion!

My situation

I am the main shopper in a family of four. We eat mainly vegetarian food, especially since the problems with the processed meat industry have been revealed. I almost exclusively use the big 24 hour supermarket that is a five minute walk away from home and I quite enjoy the experience. My two children attend almost all household shopping trips (about two main visits per week, taking an hour each) and sometimes we use the shop café afterwards. We almost always travel by car.

I buy mainly food but take advantage of the wide range of products available, such as books, toys and electrical items. I have always felt guilty about my supermarket use, especially for non-grocery items but the reward points, my convenient belief that there are few ethical competitors and I’ll admit it, laziness, usually win me over, especially as far as I can see, everyone else does it.

Advantages

I hope to support the message from the Fife Diet that I outlined in my last post. I want to protest against supermarkets and their lack of care for the consumer in some of their practices, recently highlighted by the media reports of the processed meat industry.

  • I want to support local business: Laughably, I like to think of myself as anti-capitalist but little of my behaviour reflects this. I want to put my money where my mouth is and support my local high street.
  • I want to enjoy new shopping experiences: I am looking forward to discovering new shops and to taking the children to proper coffee shops as part of our trips instead of the supermarket café which I really can’t stand!
  • I hope to benefit from more outdoor time: I expect that more of my shopping will involve being outdoors and on foot, making it a healthier, possibly more pleasant activity.
  • I want to reduce waste: I am hoping that, having made more of an effort to buy food, I use it more carefully and don’t end up throwing away so many items that I haven’t got round to eating.

Disadvantages

  • I expect shopping will be more time consuming: I anticipate having to visit multiple shops to buy everything I need. Although I am lucky to have a good high street with several shops close together, the likelihood is that I will have to go more than one checkout per shopping trip plus I doubt I’ll use my car as parking isn’t guaranteed to be as convenient on the high street (although still decent). Walking alone to the high street is unlikely to take longer than driving to the supermarket but the reality is that I will be walking with a buggy and a pre-school child which will at least double my traveling time.
  • I will almost certainly have difficulty carrying the shopping home: Without my car I will only be able to take home what I can hang on the buggy or on foot in the unlikely event I am child-free
  • I am braced for this experiment to cost me!: My perception that buying from small and independent shops will be more expensive than the supermarket. Rarely visiting such shops though I have little concrete evidence to base this on.
  • I perceive the high street will offer less choice: In the supermarket you can choose from several different brands of the same product. Local shops are much smaller so I don’t expect this luxury.
  • I am certain of reduced opening hours: I don’t know the opening hours of high street shops but it’s going to be less than the 24/7 offered by the local supermarket! Usually everyone in my household is indoors by 6pm but late night expeditions for emergency Calpol, for example, are not unheard of.
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