There are many kinds of supermarket shoppers. Bargain hunters scour the coloured advertisements in the local paper. Look in one of their cupboards and you’ll still find those five giant tins of pineapple which saved them a few dollars last Christmas. It’s such a shame that pineapple-upside-down cake is no longer the rage. But these shoppers are canny coupon users – the kind of people who glean bargains from the offers printed on the back of their receipts. When they buy fundraising books of discount vouchers, they cut out dozens of coupons and even remember to use them.
And then there are people who take up supermarket shopping as a hobby instead of cycling or golf. Wobbling along narrow bike lanes or whacking a ball down a fairway is not for these shopaholics. Not content with one shopping experience, these flirts have a fetish for supermarket aisles. They select a few choice items at Coles and Woolworths before dropping into Aldi on Wednesdays and Saturdays, to make sure that they get that ‘special buy’ before it sells out.
The shopping minimalist buys his food online. This sickening individual has planned his entire menu for the week. He’s selected a meal plan, ticked the items he needs for each recipe and added them to his virtual trolley. A small delivery fee and his gourmet delights, including a frozen ‘aussie apple and berry crumble created with Jamie’, are there waiting on his doorstep when he gets home.
And then there’s me, the disorganised and disaffected shopper. Despite a lifetime of detesting shopping, I visit the ‘fresh food people’ almost every day. I have a list – with no more than a dozen items on it. A couple of things we’ve run out of, some chews to vanquish the dog’s breath and the things I’ll need for dinner. And that’s when it happens. The faceless people in the marketing department are messing with my mind again. The tea is where the cereal was. The dog chews are now on the bottom shelf and my husband’s favourite brand of tuna has been replaced by a ‘select’ lookalike. The aisles are full of stacked items on trolleys and harassed looking staff are staring at the paperwork trying to figure out how they’re going to replace the toilet paper with the paper towels, swap the stationery and the toy sections while that toddler is having a tantrum and the woman in the wheelchair wants them to lift down those cartons of long-life milk which are now beyond her grasp.
We’re living in the age of Big Brother. Those FF people are spying on me. They know about every single thing I buy – even that bottle of lubricant hidden under the other items in my trolley. They’ve analysed my shopping habits and cottoned onto the fact that I’m a frequent shopper. They tempt me to try new products and give me vouchers that offer me a discount but only if I spend $100 at a time.
I decide to beat them at their own game. I bravely venture where I’ve never been before. I deviate from my shopping list, pick up some dishwasher tablets and a couple of other expensive items. Surely this extra spending will get me over their $100 line.
“That’s $92. 63.” The girl takes my rewards card and swipes it. “Just that amount?” she asks.
I hesitate for a second. Should I add a drink and a bar of chocolate so that I can save $10?
Sanity prevails. I wave my credit card in front of the sensor and as I walk out of the supermarket I make a New Year’s resolution. To shop less often and be more organised.