I now understand how East Germans must have felt when the Wall came down and they were exposed to the cornucopia of products the free market had to offer.
I’ve been increasingly annoyed by the sheer awfulness of my local Tesco. By contrast, I just came back from shopping at Asda, where I wandered the aisles with a broad smile on my face. Compared to the planned-economy drabness and empty shelves of Tesco, it was a joyous experience. There was a greater range, better products, and more stock.
Tesco claim to help me get my five fruit and vegetables a day, yet it’s a bit of an empty promise: they rarely have anything other than bananas, apples and oranges in stock. The labels on the bare shelves promise good prices—if only they had the produce to buy. I don’t know whether it’s poor stock control, inefficient shelf stacking, or their just-sold-out logistics system, but they do just about the worst job of keeping food in stock that I’ve ever seen.
Here’s a blurry shot I took with the camera on my phone the other day, demonstrating the typical range of fruit actually on the shelves. The hoarding, in case you can’t make it out, exhorts you to ‘pick fruits of different colours’. Any colour as long as it’s clear, apparently:
So why do I still go there? The Tesco store is very conveniently located, only a couple of minutes from my flat, and on my way home no matter whether I travel by cycle, bus, or tube. That’s pretty much the only reason I go there. In fact, the next closest large supermarket on my route home is another branch of Tesco, so I don’t have a great choice without taking a slightly longer route.
After today, though, I think I’m going to start going that extra distance.