Friday, 12 April 2013

There are two supermarkets

in our local shopping centre. One of them is run by a very large multi-national. The other is a "family run" concern - part of an "independent" chain. 
I do not like the supermarket run by the large multi-national. It is, at first glance, larger and apparently less expensive to shop there. 
The Senior Cat and I discussed this back when the smaller supermarket made the bold move and came into the main shopping centre. We thought we should support local if we could.
Since then the large supermarket has filled the shelves with their "own brand" products. These are at eye level. They are cheaper. Other products are disappearing from the shelves. I am sure I do not have to explain. More and more of their products are coming from overseas - mostly from China. People flock in there despite the poor lighting, the appalling layout and the vast distance from the entry to the far end - where they, of course, keep the milk.
The service however is poor. Staff stand behind checkouts and ask the usual "How are you today?" type questions. They do not listen to the answer. (My father's brother once answered "lousy" to such a question and received the answer "that's nice".) They are not, generally speaking, interested in their jobs - and who can blame them. It must be fairly soul destroying. Of course the profits go to the big shareholders at the very top.
The other shop makes the point of employing university students - something I think I may have mentioned before. These young employees know that they are not going to be there more than a few years. I have seen quite a few of them come and go - and have read quite a few of their essays as they go through their degrees. 
But I am wondering how much longer the smaller supermarket can survive. 
Why? Because this morning there is the report of yet another local food manufacturing business going into voluntary administration. One of the chief reasons, it states, is that they suddenly lost 40% of their business when the bigger supermarket chain decided that they would no longer source products from them. Bang. Just like that. The big supermarket chain has made a decision. Any contract will no doubt have been a short term contract. They will break the terms of a contract if it suits them Their market share is so big it does not matter - to them. Small companies know that it will not even be worth taking them to court. 
It matters to the rest of us of course. I think there may be some parallels here with other monopolies... but apparently it is all right for the government to have a monopoly... or is it?


Sue Bursztynski said...

I was right with you, Cat, until you put in the complaint about "the government and monopolies". There are some natural monopolies, such as public transport and power services. We all put in, in the form of taxes and we all take out. I live in Victoria, where a certain premier whose name I won't mention because he deserves to be forgotten, sold everything not nailed down to the private sector. Thousands lost their jobs. The school where I had worked was sold off to the racecourse next door, not because the school wasn't viable but because the racecourse was offering a lot of money. Electricity, which had been a public service, for the public good, was split into companies which have their own monopolies and tough luck if you don't like their service! Maybe you can change if you run a business. Call centres have been outsourced to overseas. Public transport is not something you can order to compete - if you live on a certain rail line or bus route that's the transport you have to take. And we still pay our taxes!

When the Tullamarine freeway became a tollway, run by a private company, a contract was signed not to improve the public transport there for many years, so as not to compete with the tollway.

I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point.

I know the supermarket chain you mean. If you don't like what they're doing, make sure that in your area, at least, the locals support the smaller business and don't buy the house brands when they do shop there. The dairy farmers are suffering because of house brand milk. I won't buy it. Don't buy anything imported if locals are producing it. Do a petition. Get your knitting club involved. Whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

Sue, I think you will find that call centres were outsourced overseas because of the success of the "do not call" register - which took the edge off the companies who use call centres being able to make a profit here.
Give any government a monopoly and it drives prices up because they can always use more money. Just two competing companies will keep prices lower. Chris

catdownunder said...

Hi Sue, I wasn't actually complaining - just commenting on the oddity of it. I also recognise there are things you need infrastructure for - but government monopolies can just as easily lead to overpriced services. After all it is taxpayers who need to pay for the election promises of the parties of all political persuasions. If we have to have monopolies then we also have to have safeguards.

Holly said...

Same thing as the "wallmarting" of America where large box stores moved in, under cut all the mom-pop stores and effectively finished off what was left of most small towns (that which had managed to survive the building of the Interstate highway system which bypassed all of the towns).

The fact that the trend is world wide unfortunately doesn't surprise me a bit.

Keep shopping local for as long as you can!