I believe for a Happy, simply society and planet the less (or none) we buy from a big supermarket the better…
This is a thought that has been kicking around in my head for a while and then a great blog (not mine) finally got me to put them on the page. Have a look at the blog I am referring to here from 1 Million Women: http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/
I have been thinking about this a lot while in Africa, especially while I was in Kampala, Uganda and saw huge supermarkets popping up all over town to the reverence and joy of the locals feeling like they were seeing ‘development’.
My point is to not to stop this development as that is not really my role to decide what is best for the people of Uganda and I know a giant supermarket represents easier and more variety in their shopping and hence diet and lives. BUT I am more concerned about the huge impacts big supermarkets have on society.
All of the giant supermarkets growing in Africa are from Kenya, South Africa, USA, UK, etc and even the African owned companies will not be investing back into the local economy like a small permanent resident retailer will.
In summary my concerns for big supermarkets and benefits of local stores:
||Generally go to a fat man in another community/country
||Generally goes back into the local community
||Deterioration of community connectedness – the person serving you at the supermarket is likely to not be from your local community
||A local store is often where they also live and you often know them or they know you from a young age or for many years
||You are less likely to have a chat with a random checkout person who is often under pressure with a line up behind
||You are far more likely to have an extended chat with your local store on the local politics, weather, etc
|Jobs- less jobs
||Less livelihoods and economic sustainability for people in the community as you need less people per customer in a supermarket
||More impact on others and their community when the jobs are directly supporting a family
|Jobs – less money
||Supermarket jobs are usually poorly paid and often for younger folks
||More money reaches the owner, their family and their community
|Energy and environment
||Big supermarkets use far more energy and less locally sourced products
||A local store will sell less variety but more seasonal and local
|Source of products
||Supermarkets will usually buy from the cheapest internationally. Less middlemen and less local
||Local stores will usually buy from the cheapest locally. More middlemen and more local
||The shopping experience at a supermarket is far more inhuman, individual and sterile
||A local store you are interacting with people, family, community and your environment so much more
Local stores in amongst the community in Maputo, Mozambique
Basically I believe big supermarkets are a cancer on society and this is proven in a country like Australia where big supermarkets replaced speciality stores. These stores were often owned by local families and injecting the money back into their, and your, local community through their own pockets.
The chance of this model of the local community circle being complete is virtually impossible with big supermarkets as the money that goes to the grand executive of the big supermarket is very unlikely to be spending their money in your local community…
I also believe there has been a degradation of society where supermarkets now reign. There is less contact, communication and care in the community compared with where smaller local retailers are still the norm.
It is very difficult and not really my place to stand in the way of big supermarkets in a place like Uganda, other than sharing with them the traps a country like Australia has experienced with advent of supermarkets becoming common place.
On a positive note what I (and maybe others) can do is support local stores and divorce ourselves from the supermarket! Again refer to the 1 Million Women blog to see some tips on how to do this! http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2014/01/14/how-to-break-up-with-the-supermarket/