Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Ups and Downs of the Supermarket Aisles

I read recently - can't remember where - that while you are standing in line at the check-out, you can be judged by the items in your basket.  Yikes!  That's food for thought and sorry about the pun.

I learned recently that I'm a dood (don't own or drive), which means when I go shopping I buy in small walk-homeable lots.  That means you are likely to find me standing in front of you with a carton of washing powder and a deodorant stick in my shopping basket or possibly a few kilos of potatoes and a packet of tissues with a magazine thrown in for good measure. Shop light, chase the special offers and carry home as little as possible is my mode de shopping vie.

But that is not what this lifestyle article meant.  For example, if I remember correctly,  a bunch of spring onions in your basket says "I'm going to make a complicated gourmet meal tonight", i.e. I am a hostess of elegant dinner parties.  You are on the right side of the higher income bracket if you turn up at the check-out with San Pellegrino water instead of Tesco's brand - but of course you won't be shopping in Tesco's anyway, now will you?  And apparently there are people who have all their shopping delivered either in M&S or Waitrose carrier bags regardless of where they bought it in order to impress the neighbours.  Personally, if I have to go to that much trouble to keep up with the Joneses I'd be looking for a house swap.

I don't know why I found this all very fascinating except perhaps that I wondered who has the time and interest to inspect people's shopping baskets and then make decisions on their lifestyles based on what they are in the process of buying.  What does it say about me if I buy just one bottle of cidre? Will other more sophisticated shoppers think a) I'm making an extraordinarily tasty stew and have invited some French people to dinner? or b) I can't afford more than one bottle of the stuff?  or c) I'm a secret cider drinker?  None of which assumptions would be correct.  Come to that, what light does a tin of beans cast on my character and lifestyle?  The bigger question is:  do I care?  And the answer is, no I do not care a scrap and I suspect that I belong to a vast number of shoppers who are far more interested in getting their stuff through the check-out and ultimately into the kitchen without sparing a glance or a thought for the bottles of San Pellegrino and spring onions in anyone else's basket.  What a happy thought!

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