JCT

#4 Downshift your supermarket

In Food & Drink, Save cash on October 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm

It’s what everyone’s doing these days.

As must be obvious by now, this is not a guide to the sort of grindingly hopeless unemployment that crushes generations and wipes out entire trades. It’s not about 80s mining communities or Midlands car workers.  This is the white collar version where, even though someone might be going through the textbook roll call of emotions associated with not having a job (demoralisation, disenfranchisement, etc), there’s still a roof over your head and the faint idea that, if you really knuckled down, reorganised your expectations, tightened your belt and pulled your finger out, you could still emerge from the Recession smiling.

But even in White Collar World right now, conspicuous consumption just isn’t done, whether you can afford it or not. We’re all in this together, right? (OK, some of us more so than others, George.) Which means that having a ‘courgette’ coloured van pull up in front of you house and offload multipacks of fizzy water in daylight hours is a bit of a social a no-no.

Superficial research at a south London literary party revealed that Asda is where the everyone’s getting their social conscience these days. Or pretending they are. Now, I’ve been to Asda Isle of Dogs and Asda Old Kent Road and, unless you’re after cheap school uniform or family packs of cheese balls (which in both cases I was, but it’s a long story), the thrills are low.

On the other hand, I’m easily suckered by advertising, and when Denise van Outen stands in the fresh produce aisle telling me there’s more reasons to shop at Morrisons, I’m going to believe her. Plus their online mag is great (and yes, I am applying for the job that was on Gorkana this week).

The first thing to note about Morrisons Peckham vs Sainsbury Dog Kennel Hill is the absence of a Starbucks. No squishy sofas or squirty cream, just harsh lighting and plastic tables, strong tea and the faint odour of fried food. No team of car washers ambushes you the moment you leave your vehicle, but you are expected to find a pound for your trolley.

Now I’ve no intention of going completely own-brand just yet, (I’ll wait for things to get really bad for that), but I’m encouraged by the vine-ripened tomatoes at £1 a pack, new potatoes (also £1), and free range chicken breast. I complement these with special offers on household names – buy one get one free on Happy Faces (88p), two sharing bags of Red Sky crisps for £2 (though subsequently make mental note to avoid sour cream flavour in future – disgusting), buy one get on free Petit Filous (£1.58), and ditto Colgate (£1.28). The cheap shortbread turned out to be a waste of 39p but the bws aisle  was an unexpected winner with three brands of fino and an excellent Rioja, down from £13 to £7.99 (strangely, I seemed to be the only shopper excited by this obvious bargain). An excellent range of ales included the full spectrum of Adnams, including Explorer (blonde), Lighthouse (pale ale), Gunhill (darker, chocolately), East Green (eco beer) and Blackburn brewery Thwaites – Double Century, Lancaster bomber, and autumn special Liberation.

So the customer base for Peckham Morrisons turns out to be not quite Sainsburys Dog Kennel Hill; in fact, it’s not quite Iceland Lordship Lane either. And I was conspicuously the only person with a trolley piled with Badoit (at 89p a bottle it’s about 30p cheaper than in Somerfield, although still 1p more than in Nicolas), or who’d remembered to bring their Bags for Life. But I got out with a family shop for under £100, and, according to my till receipt, £5.77 in savings. I doubt Denise shops there though.

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