Saturday, January 28, 2006

Retail Therapy V

One of the first things you will notice or perhaps more correctly won’t notice when attending a supermarket is shopping trolleys littering the car park. Those supermarkets that have car parks are virtually free of the abandoned silver cages with minds of their own.

Inside there are plenty either stacked at the entrance awaiting your use or when abandoned cluttering the approach to the checkouts. Of which in the larger supermarkets there will be 40 to 50 more often than not in rows 2 deep.

As with supermarkets the world over, there are aisle upon aisle of pre-packaged food stuffs, household cleaning products and personal hygiene necessities arranged to encourage impulse buying. There will be a fresh fruit and veg section where the majority of nature’s bounty will be pre-bagged except bananas which are sold by the hand. The deli section will have an amazing array of hot dogs including beefy dogs, chicken dogs, cheesy dogs and sweet and juicy dogs.

In the fresh neat section there will be 2 or 3 butchers in direct competition, each offering a similar array of cuts, although at different prices. The prices can range as much as 5 pesos per kilo for what look to be identical animal parts. Pork cuts predominate and unlike the fruit and veg your choice of particular cuts is expected. Beef is available although the quality is questionable. Chicken is another big seller and like the fruit and veg comes pre-packed.

At the Landmark supermarket meat purchases are paid at point of sale. It is necessary to keep the receipt handy as it will be checked at the checkout. So too will the receipts for purchases from the liquor store and the bakery, where point of sale payment is also mandatory.

At the Pure Gold supermarkets, a chain of warehouse style supermarkets which also sells at a discounted rate to sari sari stores, the checkout receipt is required to exit the store. The bagger will have noted on it how many bags you have and they will be countered upon exit.

All supermarket checkouts have baggers who pack your purchases into plastic bags after they have been scanned by the checkout chick. If your purchases are few, they will hand them to your care. If they are many, more than 3 bags per person, the bagger will take control and transport them to your waiting carriage. The cost of this act of generosity is at the customer’s discretion, although 20 pesos is considered average.

All supermarkets have a package counter where you can leave purchases from other stores before starting your therapy session in the supermarket. This does leave you free to fill your trolley unencumbered and avoids any confusion at the checkout as to just where that bar of soap was acquired.

Ever mindful of their customers’ comfort the majority of supermarkets provide a range of food stalls between the checkouts and the exit. Whether it is sustenance after the exertions of filling the trolley or catering to the wise shopper mantra of never buying food on an empty stomach your needs will be catered to.

A wide range of mouth watering treats from ice creams to full meals are available. Local delicacies like siomai, a pork dim sum, or kalderata, a spicy meat stew, compete with franchised fast food outlets of every description. Those that don’t like Rustan’s at the Power Plant Mall have an assortment of food outlets facing their checkouts just a few meters across the mall.

Supermarkets, like all Philippine retail therapy options, offer food for instant consumption as often as practical; a fed shopper is a happy shopper, di ba. That the car parks are trolley free shows that the baggers not only provide an extra service for the customer but also protect the owner’s collateral.

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