Often the construction of a new supermarket in an area is perceived to be a sign of progress and opportunity but this is not always the case, in fact, a new retail giant in an area can mean pure evil and the death of a community as we know it.
Supermarkets are handy for the times you need to get something out of normal trading hours or a product you can’t get anywhere else. And, a supermarket can be a good thing for a new community which is isolated or has little or no current retail offerings.
However, the supermarket by its nature is a very dangerous animal and it certainly needs to be watched and contained otherwise it can bestow unforeseen damage for miles around.
The supermarket beast is formidable and its PR department is better resourced and considered just as important as the fresh food arm of its organisation. Supermarkets will tell us we cannot live without them, they will brainwash the people into thinking the food they sell is the freshest or cheapest, and they will distribute many myths about how good supermarkets are for us.
This post sorts through 10 common myths about why supermarkets are supposedly good and busts them!
Myth 1 – Supermarkets employ a lot of people and create jobs
It’s certainly true supermarkets employ a lot of people but a country is not a company and lifting productivity whilst shedding staff may be good for a company’s bottom line but losing jobs through closing down several small grocers due to pressure from one expanding supermarket does not help a country’s economy.
Money makes the world go around and a small amount passing through many hands is better than a large amount in one hand whilst the rest have none. Shutting down a dozen small grocers in an area and consolidating to one big supermarket only cuts jobs and makes more money for a few.
Myth 2 – Supermarkets can bargain the best price for the consumer
Wrong! The best price is often right under our noses in our local grocer or farmers market. Most fruit and vegetables are seasonal and will not last too long out of season or after harvest. Therefore, it’s often in the farmer’s best interest to move the produce on at reasonable prices rather than let it sit at high prices.
Also, every so often one or two product lines have an exceptional year and a glut is produced and the simple rules of supply vs demand will lower prices. Supermarkets on the other hand balance “specials” with rises in other products and often regulate prices or substitute out of season product lines with expensive or cheap (depending on the product) pesticide laden imported goods.
Supermarkets do have a lot of power that’s true, but their selling price does not necessarily reflect what the farmer got paid at the gate.
Myth 3 – Supermarkets are too big to fail
Some believe that supermarkets should be supported regardless of the “collateral damage” because if they fail it would be disastrous for the stock markets and linked monetary assets like retirement superannuation. Since these companies are so huge their power to influence is immense and the threat of “if I go down you go down too” is a handy tool in this businesses arsenal.
The truth is, nothing is “too big to fail” and in a true market economy dinosaurs can become extinct without the world coming to an end – others will fill the gap. Anyway, it’s absurd to favour big business just because of market pressure and no one is suggesting shutting down supermarkets (not even me) but the playing field does need to become fairer for all. And, if this levelling means a slow diminishing of market share back to the “little guy” at the gradual expense of shareholders and outrageous profits by big corporations then so be it.
Myth 4 – Supermarkets are too powerful to fight against
Some people don’t like what big supermarkets stand for but feel these major corporations are too big to beat and that’s understandable. However, people power has successfully stopped big corporations in their tracks before by standing together and sticking up for their rights.
At the end of the day, no consumer has a gun pointing at their head to buy everything from their major retailer so turning your back on the supermarket monopoly in an area (even if it’s just occasionally) is enough to boost small business and keep big business honest.
Myth 5 – Supermarket loyalty rewards save poor people money
I saw some basic analytics on TV stating a person needs to spend approximately $13,000 to earn enough points for a $57 voucher – that doesn’t seem overly generous to me. Still, who bloody cares if it’s more! Nothing is for free in “supermarket world” because it’s all factored into the pricing and supermarkets are only loyal to shareholders so those who manically abide by their rewards card need to stop being taken for a ride and realise they are just a cash cow taken for granted.
Myth 6 – Supermarkets have more choice
That’s always a funny one because how many people actively go into their supermarket to browse for something totally new? I bet not many, as they trundle along to the checkout with the same standard boring old vegetables.
Farmers markets have arguably more choice because they always have the staples covered plus they can afford to produce and sell those micro-crops of speciality goods hardly ever seen in supermarkets. And if you do see the odd exotic at a supermarket it’s usually expensive as sin and imported!
Myth 7 – Everything under one roof saves time
I often hear people say they shop at supermarkets because it saves them time. Everything they need is held under the same roof space and it’s just so convenient compared to travelling between several shops to get what they need so they say.
If it’s time needed to be saved then why go browsing through a huge supermarket often buying more than needed only to queue up for 15 minutes when a person could target shop in less time? Supermarkets are like casinos they’re designed to keep the customer shopping.
Myth 8 – Supermarket food is fresh and the best
It’s probably true quality control (aesthetic wise) is higher in the supermarket, which is why there’s more pressure on growers who supply supermarkets to spray their produce with all sorts of potent chemicals to make them look perfect. However, just because a product looks good doesn’t mean it is good or tastes better.
It’s common sense that locally produced fruit and veg is fresher because it doesn’t have to travel far for a start. Plus, produce can be allowed to ripen naturally on the plant rather than picked green to handle long distance transportation.
Myth 9 – You get better customer service from a supermarket
The only people who believe this are the ones who never have had to line up several deep at the only manned checkout whilst the other 20 are closed! We’re just numbers at a supermarket and more effort goes into designing systems to employ less staff than customer service I assure you.
On the other hand, the local green grocer is not perving at you as you arrive at the checkout out of lust, it’s more likely they’re looking at you with happiness to have another customer come through – and they hope you’ll be back!
Ask the local farmer’s market stall owner or grocer where the produce was grown and they’ll know which farm it came from… Ask the staff at the supermarket and they’ll be lucky to know which country the goods were grown.
Myth 10 – Supermarkets are good for competition
I concede a supermarket might be a welcome sight in an area which has previously been starved of a local grocer. I understand how a supermarket could make perfect sense in a new development or suburb which needs a retail district. However, why should a supermarket chain be given a green light to basically squat in communities with already established grocers?
That’s NOT fair competition when a supermarket can operate at a loss in an area supported by its corporate might until its undercutting of local businesses finally kills off all competition, that’s NOT in favour of local communities when most of the profits leave the local area, and that’s certainly NOT good for local development when a supermarket means less jobs and ultimately higher prices in the end.
10 supermarket myths BUSTED – nuff said…
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…