Why I hate Grocery shopping

My local grocery store is one of the largest in the country.  It seems like no matter what time of day or which day I go, every man and his dog is out getting their provisions.

It begins with finding a parking space, all the good ones are reserved for people with disability stickers, makes sense and most days I can totally respect the need, however on a wet, busy day, with two whining pipis in tow, I’d love to park a little closer and under cover.  So I drag my protesting offspring into the building, and select a trolley, preferably one that isn’t wet from being outdoors, which has wheels that like to go in the same direction and no flat spots that make it go “ga dom, ga dom” as I wheel it around what must surely be a kilometre of aisles.

Here in NZ on the roads, we keep as far as practicable (according to the road code anyway) to the left.  It used to be much the same with walking and let me tell you, it’s essential at the Supermarket.

In my experience shoppers fall under the following categories:

The Clueless shopper: With no list in hand and no plan in mind, this shopper wanders the aisles, stopping on a whim to gaze blankly at the shelves and doesn’t appear cognizant of the risk of being hit from behind by a trolley full of groceries.  These shoppers are quite likely to leave their trolley smack in the middle of the aisle as they weave in a dream state toward the tofu shelf and trap shoppers from both directions, whilst they read the list of ingredients on their weight watchers meal.  They will wander down the up aisle blissfully unaware of the trolleys, pensioners and children dodging their erratic progress. They meander their way through the supermarket with bananas in the top of the trolley where a toddler would sit, in the hopes of snagging a new “life partner”.

The Organised Mum: Recognizable by her list and surrounded by an orderly crowd of children, she expends as much energy controlling the brats as she does on filling her trolley.  With the peripheral vision of a Navy Seal, she’s marshalling children, keeping them busy getting stock from the shelves and watching her trolley like an eagle for unauthorised purchases. Her trolley is full of specials, rice, fruit and veg and from scratch type ingredients.  She has a plan and she’s in control.  The children are assigned tasks to keep them busy, are firmly prohibited from tantrums and are seen post checkout helping to pack the groceries into fabric bags and the free boxes scored as they shopped.

The new age Mother: This is the worst of the female shoppers, like the aforementioned good Mum, she’s surrounded by a gaggle of offspring.  She’s completely unfazed by her offspring climbing shelves, shoving chocolate bars into her trolley and their annoying game of pushing their trolley into other shoppers.  This woman is no multitasker, she’s got eyes firmly fixed on the checkout and when eventually approached by an irate pensioner with a trolley wedge firmly in his/her back courtesy of unruly offspring, she will only murmur gently Madisonay darling please don’t do that.  This Mother packs her shopping haphazardly into generic supermarket plastic bags whilst her errant offspring climb all over the packing tables and throw tantrums.  She’s also the mother who feeds her children from the shelves as she shops.

The Pensioner: Recognizable by their gray hair and meat packs for one.  They spend the majority of their time glaring disapprovingly at all children and their parents, greeting their fellow pensioners from the RSA and muttering to one another about how children in their day would have got a bloody hiding for behaving that way!  Shuffling slowly around the aisles, they feel it’s their right to abandon their trolleys in the centre of the aisle, after all they paid tax for years, they freely and loudly bemoan inflation and reminisce about meat costing sixpence a pound.   They’ll hold you up at the checkout paying in exact change, down to the very last cent which is firmly lodged somewhere in the bottom of their coin purse, they know it’s there and no way on God’s green earth will they use a larger coin or break a note.

The Hurried shopper: Just wants to get in and out.  They know what they want and care nothing about the traffic flow as they race from aisle to aisle against the trolleys coming toward them.  Finally they race toward the emptiest checkout and tap their feet impatiently as the shopper ahead is getting scanned through. These are the people who try and sneak 14 items through the 12 or less check out because they have two packs of the same thing.  You can hear them muttering darkly about the point of an express line.

The Family: Father pushes the trolley so he can put incomprehensible items like tins of lambs tongue and pickled onions into the trolley whilst Mum is off in pursuit of the $1/loaf bread special, a kid on each arm.  He’s also likely to sneak a king size bar of chocolate in there.  Mum is getting fed up trying to keep the kids in line and purchase all the must haves, she’s likely to just want to get out of the place before her husband and children bankrupt them with non essentials.  You can hear her telling her husband in short tones, that while they DO need a new microwave, she doesn’t intend purchasing one today, from the grocery store!  The kids playing on the fact they have their budget breaking Dad with them, persuade him to include sugar laden cereals in boxes and lunch box bars covered in chocolate while Mum is working out which is the best seasonal fruit to buy.  Eventually she breaks loose and tells the Father to look after the kids so she has 5 seconds to concentrate otherwise they won’t have what they need to eat this week and to stop putting crap in the trolley!  I’ve been this Mother on any number of occasions.

The shop shopper: This is an entire family who run a small corner store and they are shopping for all the specials to get the best mark up possible.  They work in a convoy of trolleys.  You can tell they are shopping for trade by the very bulkness of the items they buy.  12 dozen boxes of cola in one trolley, chocolate bars by the carton in another.  Their chief irritation factor is that they clog up the checkouts with their convoy of trolleys and calmly ignore the “we don’t supply trade” signage.  What’s worse, you know that they only paid 50c per 2 litre bottle of cola and they are going to charge you $3 for it later in the week!  That and their van is likely to be illegally parked in the disabled car parks.


Children at the grocery store fall into two categories, I can say this because I am a mother and my children have been both because believe it or not, it’s not a matter of behaviour, it’s entirely dependant on the child’s level of exhaustion and mood on the day.  If I have to take my kids shopping, ie the cupboards are bare, then I try to do it when they are in a good mood, that is not always possible though.

The Meltdown Kid:  There’s nothing worse than having your normally well behaved child turn into a brat in a busy supermarket.  A full on geothermal meltdown is every mother’s nightmare shopping trip, contrary to the belief of bystanders.  This child has usually spent the morning/afternoon at kindy, they seemed ok when Mum decided to head to the supermarket but within two aisles of the checkout, they’ve had enough!  This is NOT the fun it first appeared to be, the seat in the trolley is uncomfortable and they want to walk, but they don’t want to walk.  They ask for something they know they can’t have, that’s all the excuse they need to launch a full on melt down in the middle of the aisle, complete with flailing limbs, breath holding, yelling and tears.

The can’t keep my hands to myself Kid: Ok this one is a behavioural issue.  Obviously this kid is tactile and must touch!  He/She is into everything and darts across the aisles at lightning speed.

The model child: This is more good luck than good management.  My children have been the meltdown kid and they’ve been the model child.  This one sits in the trolley looking adorable, sings nursery rhymes in an inside voice and has hands folded neatly in its lap for the entire journey. 


3 Responses to “Why I hate Grocery shopping”

  1. panoramia Says:

    You would looooooove supermarket shopping in Southland — is there a category for clutches of females in netball gear forming scrums in the aisles to discuss the lambing?

  2. Oh we have the females in netball gear, the supermarket is down the road from the Netball courts, however, I scrupulously avoid the supermarket on Saturday mornings or I am sure that I would see them. I doubt somehow they are discussing lambing here in Auckland however.

  3. I should be of the pensioner sub-tribe, but I see a bit of each in my shopping habits. I hate shopping in supermarkets but our local one has wide aisles and I choose to shop early or late in the day. These are the times when I have a clear idea what I want and people are nicer too.
    And there isn’t a screaming tantrum in the place!

    My supermarket bill per week doesn’t rate a fuel discount voucher! How? I make my own bread, grow herbs and vegetables and what I don’t have in the garden, I buy from market gardens in Hobsonville. Meat is from the Manager’s special display (fantastic!) or local butcher.

    Anyone got a recipe for home-made butter?

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