Thursday, 10 September 2015

shopping locally

I've been thinking about what people say about shopping locally.

We are lucky in Largs, in that we have a 'proper' high street. We've got a few chain shops, but we've also got things like butchers, bakers, fishmongers, ironmongers, greengrocers etc, so perhaps as the person buying the shopping, I should be using these shops rather than the supermarkets?

I have a feeling that shopping at the supermarket is cheaper and more convenient, but I thought that I'd do a wee experiment to see if this is true.

So, I'm taking a shopping list, and buying the items on it (or as many as I can) at a supermarket, and then, a week later (so all that good stuff doesn't go to waste), on the high street.

I'm going to let you know about the experience of shopping, the cost; whether I can find the things on my list, if I buy extra stuff (or decide to do without), and the convenience. 

Here's the list (the list was chosen because it was the stuff I happened to need this morning):
  • Oat crisp cereal
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Hay fever medicine
  • Stamps (1st and 2nd class)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Mug shots
  • Diet cola
  • Soda water
  • Cat food pouches
  • Eggs
  • Muller lights
  • Milk 
  • Bread
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit
  • Tissues

I went to Morrisons in Largs (because that is my nearest supermarket), parked in the car park, took a small trolley, and went around the shop. It took about 30 minutes to do the shop. The shop was pleasant enough, and a man in the car park chatted with me about the weather (he hoped for sun, but I predicted rain, we were both right), when I came out.

What I didn't buy
  • Oat crisps (my favourite cereal but very hard to find).
  • Carpet shampoo - they definitely sell it, but I couldn't find it on the shelf.
  • Hay fever medicine
  • Stamps           
        • I meant to get stamps at the checkout, and the medicine in the chemist, which is past the checkout, but I forgot, as I often seem to do! I'm blaming it on the checkout operator who was grumbling about a child making noise, which surprised me, because that's kind of what kids do.
  • Toothbrushes - the cheapest was £2, which I deemed too expensive.
  • Mug shots - my new favourite snack, but overpriced in Morrisons at the moment at 80p for what is basically akin to a packet of crisps.
What I did buy
  • Diet cola - I got Diet Coke @ BOGOF - 2 bottles for £1.85
  • Soda water - I got a four pack AND ALSO a four pack of tonic water (bound to come in handy) because of a special offer. The two four packs came to £3 (I'm counting £1.50 here and £1.50 in the section below)
  • Cat food pouches - I got a box of 44 Felix pouches for £10, on offer.
  • Eggs - 12 medium free range eggs for £1.69 
  • Bacon - 10 slices of bacon in a pack for £1.89
  • Hummus - nice big tub of hummus for £1.25
  • Muller lights - 6 packs of Muller Lights are on offer at the moment for £2 each. I got two, so £4.
  • Milk - 1 4 pint bottle for 89p
  • Bread - 1 large cob loaf for 50p (special offer)
  • Mushrooms - punnet of mushrooms for £1
  • Fruit
        • Gala apples bag £1
        • Punnet of Scottish strawberries £1.87
        • Pineapple 77p
  • Tissues - Savers Tissues 225 pack for 65p

Extra things I bought
  • The tonic water on the special offer with the soda water (see above)
  • 3 bags for life, because I'd forgotten to bring my bags at 12p each: 36p
  • Pasta n Sauce packs (because they're low syns and last ages, and were on special offer) 3 @ 50p: £1.50, also 1 pack of low fat Super Noodles (same reason), 50p.
  • Corn on the cob (because it was a good price, and I've got some in the fridge, but not enough to go around). 4 half cobs for £1.

I think I did alright at Morrisons, but I think I could get the toothbrushes cheaper on the high street, and I wonder if the quality and freshness of the meat, fruit and veg might be different too.


I parked as close to town as I could get, shoved a load of bags in my (great big) handbag, and went into town to shop. I wore my headphones, but took them out whenever I was going to be speaking to anyone. Everyone I spoke to in the shops was pleasant. No-one else spoke to me, although I did smile at a few people. My shopping took 45 minutes. I've mentioned below that there were a few things I didn't get because they were too heavy. Carrying the stuff back to the car was really sore on my arms, and as I write, my shoulder is still hurting. I remember having to do this back in the day, and the frequency with which I had to shop because of it. Ugh.

What I didn't buy

  • Oat crisp cereal (couldn't find any, as before).
  • Diet cola (couldn't find any caffeine free stuff, which is what I drink).
  • Soda water (I noted that the price for the soda water in our little Tesco is £1.50 for four. Can't imagine I'd ever want to attempt to carry four litres around though. I suspect I would do better if I got one of those bag trolley things. Too heavy!)
  • Cat food pouches (too heavy; the pet shop didn't have any of the kind the cat will eat, and the vets was out of the way, so didn't get any).

  • What I did buy
    • Carpet shampoo - yay! Found it in Semi Chem £1
    • Hay fever medicine - from Boots £3.19 
    • Stamps (1st and 2nd class) - from the Post Office - I got books of 12, and no receipt so cannot remember how much they were, sorry!
    • Toothbrushes - yay! Semi Chem three for £1.99
    • Mug shots - 63p each in Tesco. Got three. £1.89
    • Eggs - from the greengrocer (6 large free range, from a specific farm) about £1.70, but no receipt to check.
    • Muller lights - 3 for £1.50 from Tesco (only two flavours available).
    • Milk - Tesco, £1
    • Bread - Tesco (we have bakers on our high street, but we're not keen on their bread). Sour dough loaf for tea £1.80, standard bread for sandwiches 78p
    • Mushrooms - no receipt from greengrocer but about 50p for about 125g - same price as Morrisons
    • Fruit - about £2 for a punnet of grapes. 
    • Tissues - Semi Chem £1

    Extra things I bought
    • Local 2016 calendar from Post Office £4.99 - it's got to come in handy, right?
    • Toothpaste - found my favourite kind in Semi Chem at less than half the price it's on at in Morrisons, so bought two tubes £2.58
    • Peppers in Tesco - three for 99p, with no yucky green ones.
    • Meat at the butcher - not sure how the cost broke down, but it ended up costing about the same as Morrisons.


    It surprised me to find that prices were pretty much of a muchness. The main differences were about time taken and convenience, on both of which the supermarket won, however, I just couldn't get all I wanted at the supermarket.

    The meat which seems awfully expensive in the butchers, is, when I think about it, about the same price as the supermarket (possibly with the exception of bacon). The butchers has the benefit of doing smaller or bespoke portions, while the supermarket has the benefit of use by dates. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of meat anyway.

    The Greengrocers has less choice than the supermarket, but has more local produce, and I really like their mushrooms. It's worth checking if anything looks good. The eggs I bought were really large, and would probably be a similar price in the supermarket, although as long as they're free range, I'm perfectly content with medium eggs to be honest.

    I wish we had a decent baker in town, but it's good to know that Tesco does sourdough loaves, because we love those for a treat.

    Semi Chem was a revelation. Great prices and my new go to store for toiletries and cleaning stuff. Other shops I think I'll just pop into if I happen to be in town anyway.

    What I'd really like to see in Largs is improved free parking (I'm not sure how to achieve this, but at the moment the situation makes shopping in town really hard), a good, possibly independent bakers, and a farmers market actually in town (perhaps we could close Tron Place for the purpose?) on a Saturday morning.

    What's you home town like for shopping? And what improvements would you like to see?