Three Standard Store Practices that Seriously Rock My World (And I Don't Mean in a Good Way)
I understand we all need to make a buck. I also understand that the folks in charge need to make decisions about things such as price hikes and product locations according to whatever their marketing and sales gurus are telling them. But three standard events that occur at basically every grocery store on a semi-regular basis throw me for a loop every time.
Drastically upping the price on a traditional cheapie.
This upsets me the most when there isn't any major crisis affecting a particular type of crop. An example of this would be if a particular store notices that many of us are stocking up on cornmeal and they jack up the price. Yes it's basic business, but for those of us who operate our household budgets with extreme precision, we may decide not to purchase that item from you at all when the store across the street still sells it at a reasonable price. Oh, and that impulse buy iced tea we would have picked up at your check out line? The guy next door gets to ring up that sale too. I guess my overall point here is that there are plenty of other high margin items in any grocery store that a fair number of us buy as well. Do you really have to play hard ball with the basic pantry staples when there's absolutely no price fluctuation on the back end for you?
Moving something critical to a new location and making it incredibly difficult to spot.
I'm busy, damn it. And I'm quite certain I'm not alone on this issue. Even those folks who have the shopping, menu planning and general home economics gig as their primary and only job are at least as busy as the average executive. Add in a few children, a career and a pet or two and we are seriously pressed for time. If you think running a home like clockwork is a joke, try it for a week. And don't think you're going to be laying down the law like a drill sergeant on 'roids, Skippy. We have to accommodate everyone else's changing schedules, mood swings, illnesses and picky eating requests, so you will too. For the sake of argument, we'll assume you're already completely familiar with the layout of every store a serious home economist has to hit in order to get the best value on every item for their family.
Let's also assume that you haven't already had to face the aggravation of searching out the most affordable, sustainable, eco friendly product of that type that also has semi-reasonable packaging standards. You're just a person who knows what they need and is running in to the store to get it after having juggled only one crying child (with no food allergies) and has only one phone call to answer and nobody at home waiting for medicine. We want to make it easy for you to imagine. Forget that most of us are in there juggling five times that much stress on any given day.
Since laundry soap is the product I had to deal with most recently, I'll use that one as the example. If you think I'm exaggerating on my anger here, just ask our own Will Chen who happened to have the logistical pleasure of being on the phone with me when I discovered the soap was nowhere to be found. He got to experience my moment of frustration (cough, nuclear chick meltdown) first hand. Eventually, I found the soap. No thanks to the geniuses that reorganized the laundry aisle mind you, but I found it. My overall point here is that very few of us have so much extra time to burn that we'll be happy to spend it hunting down a basic item that's been in the same place for nearly a year. Grocery shopping is a colossal pain in the neck on the best of days. So could the powers that be please take that into consideration when they are taking an item from a particular aisle and moving it down to an end cap at the other end of the store? We have no way of knowing that you haven't pulled item number three on us.
Stop carrying a particular staple altogether.
This is the worst, particularly when it's something you depend on to run your household smoothly. Shelf stable half and half when you live remotely for example, or frozen grapefruit juice concentrate with no high fructose corn syrup. Those of us who play a major stewardship role in our homes put a great deal of thought into where we shop and what we buy at a particular location. If you got us in the door with a popular affordable item and we find your prices on a couple of other staples affordable, you'll find we're stopping by once or twice a month. Take the one critical item off the shelves however, and we're likely to pick up those other staples somewhere else. That's assuming we even live somewhere that allows us alternative shopping locations. Many of us don't. In that case, we're reduced to mail ordering certain items and taking a few things off of our local shopping list to make the twenty-five dollar cut off for free shipping. Those additional items account for revenue that would otherwise have gone into your cash register.
I realize this little home economics rant will likely do little to change the overall flow of things. But I am curious . . . do these things drive anyone else as crazy as they drive me? Do you have particular items that your budget depends on, such as ten pound bags of chicken legs or a particular brand of bar soap? Sound off below! (For another tale of shopping frustration, check out this article by Linsey.)