As a follow-up to last week’s post, a throwdown between U.S. and GB grocery shopping experiences, I wanted to share how shopping for food is similar here. Seems we’re not so terribly different after all.
At most of the stores, you’ll find both the self-checkout (perfect if you’ve just got a few things), and the more traditional conveyor belt with cashier. They also have the little plastic markers to differentiate your purchases from the person behind you in line.
Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags, much like you find in the U.S. In fact, at some of the stores you receive a few pence off your bill or points on your loyalty program if you do. They also sell nicer bags for you to use should you neglect to bring any. And they’ll typically ask if you want to bag your items yourself or not.
You can find coupons in various places (although I’ve yet to find many in the Sunday paper, like you’d find in the U.S.) Often, after I check out, some coupons will print out along with my receipt. The stores themselves frequently offer deals like price matching, vouchers for free delivery, etc. Anyone know where I can find more coupons like I was used to clipping in the paper each week? I’m always looking to save a few quid.
The stores are set up quite similar to the U.S. Produce is usually the first section you walk through, just to the right of the entrance. Cold and frozen items are in the back or off to the side, and the middle is full of the usual packaged goods, like soup cans, cereals and biscuits. The aisles are labeled with signs above describing what you’ll find.
Like some U.S. stores, you may also find other smaller businesses inside, like watch repair, a small banking branch, or a cafe.
Several of the stores offer loyalty programs to shoppers who frequent their stores. My favorite is Nectar, because I can use it at Sainsburys (a large grocery chain), HomeBase (a home goods chain), Expedia, and several other shopping outlets and websites. Basically, I earn points each time I shop one of these places. I can then use the points on travel, money off my bills, etc. I know there are similar programs in the U.S.
Also, don’t forget to bring a 1 pound coin with you. At most stores, you’ll need one in order to access a cart (much like the U.S. store Aldi).