A key issue from the end of May’s local and European elections campaigning was Ed Miliband’s inability to state his weekly shopping bill.
Other politicians were then terrified of falling into the same trap, and brought receipts to interviews. Apparently, Eric Pickles’ shopping bill is just north of £100, and Tim Farron’s closer to £180. Setting aside the gimmicky nature of this subject, I object to it because it is out of step with how people live today.
Ed Miliband is a married father of two with an absorbing job with long hours. His wife is a barrister who, presumably, works hard. They regularly find themselves travelling, staying away from home or working early and/or late.
This makes for the sort of unstructured, busy lifestyle that is increasingly common for people who work full or part-time while trying to juggle additional home and work commitments.
It’s people like this who are driving the growth of convenience-store shopping. They don’t just go to the supermarket once a week but visit a number of shops for a variety of different needs across a week. Modern consumers don’t have a single receipt for their weekly shop, but rather multiple receipts.
I’m not seeing this as a supermarket conspiracy. To some extent, Ed Miliband made this bed for himself by talking about the cost of living crisis in such broad-brush terms.
Nonetheless, the concept of a weekly shopping bill is rapidly becoming antiquated and, for many, regular trips to the local convenience store are increasingly becoming the rule rather than the exception.