Friday, 11 April 2014

Shopping locally - is it more expensive?

I hate the thought of small independent shops going out of business because massive retailers have taken over. Community has a value and the local shop is often at the heart of that. It's heartbreaking to see so many empty shops in towns because of the fierce competition from out of town retail parks.  However, supermarkets have their appeal, parking is easy, the selection is huge and their price comparison promises should make them cheaper. Many people are put off their local shops for fear that they are more expensive but is this really true? Today's test was to try out the theory.

Image from CTMiller

I was really disappointed to find that yes my shopping at my local independent store was more expensive than it would have been at a large supermarket. But not by as much as you might imagine.

Over 21 items the difference was just £2.40. The difference is exaggerated because I bought steak as a special treat - a nice meal in instead of a night out with my husband.  The difference in cost was huge but I suspect there is a similar difference in quality and my steak is as local as it gets. The full comparison is set out below.

So are there any other factors which are worth considering when choosing whether to shop local?

I think there are a few - and it is difficult to put a price on them.
  1. The cost comparison doesn't take into account the huge marketing machine that swings into action when you go into a big supermarket. Unless you are very disciplined and shop with a list there is a big temptation to pick up additional items and these quickly mount up in cost. This could be a big advantage if you are shopping with children!
  2. Big stores are often further out of town. If you take the fuel cost per mile at the expenses rate of 60p then my local shop saved me £2.40 which strangely is the amount by which my shop would have been cheaper in the supermarket!
  3. It's a nicer experience. This is one that you just can't put a price on. My local shop is smaller and less rushed than a supermarket but still big enough to get a trolley around easily and it has a car park. It has a proper butcher counter with good quality local meat. It has cheaper cuts of meat that supermarkets don't sell and the fruit and veg looks like it came out of the ground and not a 3d printer.They also have a far better selection of real food like pulses than my supermarket.
  4. There is generally a better selection of items with less packaging.
  5. The food is locally grown and supports the local economy.
  6. On the down side there is less choice. In a supermarket it is very easy to shop to your budget by choosing premium or value ranges. My local store doesn't have the same breadth of price choice. My comparison is for broadly similar products but if I looked at the value range the shop would be considerably cheaper again.  
  7. Opening hours: the opening hours of smaller stores can be restrictive. Mine is open am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. The large supermarket is open 24 / 7.
I'd love to hear your thougths and experiences on shopping local.

Other resources on shopping local that you might find useful:


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