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Grocery Shopping Tips

How super are supermarkets in Canada?

shopping-cart-walmartTHE CHANGING FACE OF THE CANADIAN SUPERMARKET

 

Every year I’m a resident in Canada it seems to me were getting more and more like the Britain I left behind.

The Supermarket is a prime example of the changing face that always seems to be behind the times. But what I tend to notice is a large shift to emulating the old country and the ways we do things.

 

The point of points

 

The brand new PC Plus points and coupon scheme recently launched caught my eye mainly due to the fact that is so similar to Tesco’s Clubcard points program in the UK.

Every time you shop in that supermarket data is collected and used to determine what you buy most often, how much, your average budget spend on groceries and other revealing facts etc.

This data collected is analysed and used to send you offers and coupons that are more tailored to the individual rather than the masses through a flyer.

Tesco’s Clubcard rewards launched in the UK approximately 9 years ago has been part of the huge success leading to the company’s phenomenal growth.

The highly personalized Clubcard vouchers or coupons and offers it generates for its customer base tries to encourage more spending by targeting a specific part of our spending habits.

 

Delivering the goods

 

I can’t say that I’ve seen it yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see an online shopping and delivery service start here in Canada very soon. I would imagine that for geographical reasons that the delivery service would probably be restricted to more densely populated areas.

Back home (yes, it is still considered home) in the UK before I left there was a growing trend in online grocery shopping combined with a delivery service. The idea being that those of us with extremely busy lives or those who don’t have a car can still do the weekly shop without the hassle of actually going there.

There is Tesco groceries online, Waitrose online groceries and Sainsbury’s online groceries to mention but a few. There could well be many more that have since jumped on to the home delivery service bandwagon.

It sounds great, but it’s not something I ever indulged in. I’m a much more tactile guy who actually likes to see what he’s buying and check the quality of the fruit and veg that I’m going to purchase. I like to pick up products and compare them side by side.

The problem is with the online experience is that you only click what you want to buy. Someone in a picking and distribution warehouse actually does the shopping for you and they’re not as picky as you.

I’ve seen first had the results of online shopping because my sister used the service on multiple occasions and some of the product does not look pretty upon receiving the goods.

The other concern with online grocery shopping is the fact that if the product is out of stock then nothing will be sent to you unless you have stated an alternative. This leads to the question, How do I know that they really ran out of stock and they aren’t just pushing another product?

 

The finest

 

Our-Finest-Walmart-Dijon-MustardWhen you visit a Wal-mart these days you’ll notice they introduced a range called “Our Finest” which is presented in snazzy silver cardboard presentation packaging. Looks pretty good, like an up market no name brand.

Sorry Wal-mart but Tesco’s from the UK was there before you and by quite a number of years. Strangely enough Tesco’s Finest range is also presented in a snazzy silver cardboard presentation package.

Does this mean that Wal-mart is trying to emulate Tesco’s success? Maybe, considering they do already compete directly with each other in the UK with Wal-mart going under a different moniker that is Asda.

 

Check it out

 

I’ve previously talked about the self-scan checkout and how they were already in use in the UK approximately 10 years ago.

It just seems we’re a little behind the times here on a constant basis. That being said I still enjoy the face to face experience you get with a cashier. The friendly and sometimes not so friendly faces that serve you at the checkout can actually process your shopping faster than you can at the self-service.

The point of the self scan I’m guessing is to get as many people through the exit with shopping in hand without having to pay out more wages. Machines don’t need health benefits either and certainly don’t require breaks. It makes me wonder what the face of the future supermarket will look like.

 

The British invasion

 

I couldn’t believe my eyes a few weeks ago when I saw Chef Jaime Oliver doing a celebrity endorsement for Sobey’s and then again promoting his new Jaime Oliver Discovers Canada range for the supermarket chain. He’s probably one of the more likeable TV chefs possibly because he’s so down to earth and honest when he’s showing the audience that cooking can be fun and flavourful at the same time.

The thing that worried me is the fact that Mr Oliver always prided himself on the fresh ingredients used in his cooking but now his knocking out pre-made dinners in plastic tubs. There’s always a bunch of UK cooking shows on TV these days too, mainly on the wife’s favourite “Food Network”. Unfortunately they haven’t got my favourite in to the country yet, Nigella Lawson, but they do have Nigella Lawson recipes and her TV show.

 

Extras

 

Correct me if I’m wrong people of the UK but I could have swore shopping bags were not free when I left the country. I believe you have to pay for a plastic shopping bags just as we do in Canada but yet again I think we got stung for those first too.

The going rate for a shopping bag in Canadian supermarkets is 5 cents, but it’s been so long I don’t know how much is costs my fellow Brits to buy a bag. There are alternatives to paying for bags though. Take you own reusable shopping bags or use the free traditional cardboard boxes from the front of the store.

Shopping carts here in Canada take a deposit of 25 cents which is crazy cheap for the deposit while shopping trolleys in the UK usually take a £1 coin, which converted to Canadian dollars is $1.68. Would you pay that much for a shopping cart? I know one thing for certain, you wouldn’t find many carts with the deposit left inside.

 

Expanding the influence

 

Now I have seen a small number of these gas stations owned and operated I’m assuming by the associated supermarket they share the land with. Grocery stores with Petrol filling stations combined together in the UK are very popular.

All the big players in the UK have gas stations attached and usually combine deals to get more customers spending more of their money at one store.

The main idea is, when you spend “X” amount in store you’ll receive a discount or coupon for the filling station to get cheaper gas per litre. That’s great and I should know because I used to take advantage of that one every time.

Now I just use the online application Ontario Gas Prices to check the local area and save myself some extra cash. Knowledge is power.

No doubt the face of the Canadian Supermarket will change over the coming years, but will it be Super?

 

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