Thursday, July 31, 2008

The snob trap

Where do you do your grocery shopping? There's probably not a more loaded question about your social class in Britain than that. Because of the credit crunch, more families than ever have moved to supermarkets' own brands or started going to budget supermarkets - namely the holy trinity of cut-price food: Netto, Lidl and Aldi. I've never been in any of them, but that changed on Friday when I paid my first visit to a Netto. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Dickensian images of Victorian poverty perhaps. In fact it was quite nice. I ended up filling a shopping bag and it came to £6.50. The same items would have cost £20 in M&S. Except you can't buy proper vinegar to put on your fish and chips in M&S (unless you like balsamic vinegar on them). Netto reminded me a lot of the 1970s. The slightly harsh lighting was exactly the same as Peterlee's Finefayre, where my mum did all her shopping in the 1970s. And the shelves were stocked full of the same no-nonsense traditional working-class foods that you'd get in there - lots of white bread, apples and oranges, tinned food, no fancy foreign beers, but plenty of Newcastle Brown Ale. In M&S every single item tries to seduce you with distinction - everything is special, organic, fat-free or cosmopolitan in some way. Everything you buy will make you more interesting and special. My fella is a sucker for all of this. When we used to shop at Sainsburys he would always linger in the aisle that sold all those varieties of extra virgin olive oil. "You're in a snob trap," I used to tell him.

Marks and Spencer though. That's all it is. One big snob trap.

1 comment:

David said...

I'm biting my lip at writing this, not trying to come across as smug, but what the hell, I'll blurt it out - I'm a Marks and Spencer shopper!!

Wait, you think, that's not really that bad, they have good ethics after all, don't they? Here comes the crusifier - I get staff discount as my parents work there - 20% off everything so it's as cheep as tesco for me.

It's not just any discount it's M&S discount.