In an age when the nation’s biggest supermarket has long told us that every little helps, the consumer really does have the upper hand.
Never before has the shopper had so much choice as where to spend their hard earned with major retailers falling over themselves to come up with increasingly ingenious, some would say desperate, ways to get us through the door.
If you are disciplined enough then you need not spend much of your own money at all such is the ubiquity of money vouchers and coupons and loyalty points which, if you purchase enough pesto and beeswax moisturiser, entitle the family to a fortnight on the Costa Del Sol.
That’s not forgetting the free coffee and newspaper that many of those who saunter through the doors of Britain’s most middle class high street grocer take advantage of on a regular basis. Serious shoppers are seriously rewarded and there is nothing wrong with that, is there?Perhaps the most sought after customer out there is the upwardly mobile young parents, the ones whose idea of a family outing is a trip down the fresh produce aisles.
At weekends you cannot move for shiny new prams and mums and dads with tiny offspring suspended from their chests courtesy of an expensive baby sling.
Speaking from recent experience, shopping with a very young child is relatively straightforward - it is when the ‘I wanting’ starts that such expeditions become a living hell. But those in the boardrooms of the big chains know their target market and they have gone all out to win the shilling of these families.
As part of this crusade we have seen the advent of parking bays specifically designated for families with young children which, unlike disabled parking, is not a legal requirement but more of a sweetener.As someone who has just become ‘eligible’ to use such spaces again following the birth of our (very) bouncing baby boy, I find myself in a bit of a quandary over this one.
Why, just because we have made a decision to bring another person into the world should we get a bigger parking space than a childless person or someone who prefers to shop alone rather than face the torture of explaining why they won’t be eating Star Wars cereal for breakfast for the following week? Granted the extra space is welcome, but it isn’t essential.
If everyone has correctly parked within the white lines then there is ample space to open up the people carrier, empty it of its human cargo as well as unload the equipment needed to mount an assault on the frozen food aisles.
I have avoided parking in these spaces since our eldest was old enough to walk but have used them twice since our new arrival and, if I am being honest, I did so rather sheepishly. There are many out there who disagree with me, with some arguing that parking in these spaces without a child is as bad as an able bodied driver taking a disabled space.
This of course is nonsense but some shoppers will regard themselves as more important than others as long as the supermarket bosses do.