Checkout nation: our new habits
NAAS, CO KILDARE
With almost 11,000 sq m (118,400 sq ft) of floor space, Tesco Extra in Monread Shopping Centre is one of the largest supermarkets in the country. Open 24 hours, it sells everything from clothing to toys, books and electrical items, and has free parking for its customers, who drive from all over Co Kildare.
PATRICK McDONALDis 63 and works for a cheese-marketing company in Dublin. He is shopping for his wife and their two daughters, who are 25 and 34.
“I live around the corner, so I would pop in here most days. I have a shopping list, which keeps me focused. Previously I would have come in to buy €20 worth of things and ended up spending €60, putting more things in the trolley as I wandered around. Now I just get what I need.
“I have a job, and my wife and two daughters are working, but we all find it much tougher than we used to. I work in Dublin, and it is much more expensive going up and down to work because the price of petrol has gone up so much. We spend about €120 a week on groceries for the family, but that has come down a lot. The amount of food we used to throw out was unbelievable.
“I’m a bit stuck in my ways when it comes to brands. Everything here in my trolley today is branded. The sausages, rashers, bread and tea haven’t changed much over the years. For buying chicken and beef, I would look out for the special offers. There’s good value to be had. Tea was two for the price of one today, so I bought two boxes. It won’t go off.”
ROB TEAGUE, a 34-year-old medical engineer, is shopping with his two sons: Jack, who is four, and one-year-old Oliver. They live 15km away.
“We usually come here because it is the easiest for us. We can park the car and it is reasonable. We do one big shop for the week.
“We got into cooking in a big way about four years ago. We are both much healthier since the kids were born. We cook everything from scratch ourselves because it is better for them. There’s a lot of sugar and salt and additives in prepacked foods.
“We sometimes buy things like toys here; if there was a birthday coming up, we’d throw it in with the shopping.
“We spend quite a lot on the weekly shop. It is expensive to feed a family, and buy nappies and other things the kids need. But both of us are still working, thank God.
“We shop around for good value and look out for the bargains. I buy Irish products where I can, but sometimes it can be more expensive. But it is important to try to keep everyone else at work. We can all do our bit to help.”
RUTH HUMPHREYS, a graphic designer who is 44, and JOHN HUMPHREYS, a 42-year-old creative-services manager, live near Sallins with their nine-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.
“We usually shop online, but we have just moved into a new house and haven’t got our broadband set up yet. We lived in San Francisco for a few years, where online shopping is very popular,” says John.
Ruth says, “We look out for more deals now, which is easier to do online because you can compare prices. You don’t buy as much junk either, and you don’t have to spend hours going to the supermarket.
“During the week we cook at home every night, but the odd time at weekends we would have a meal out, for Sunday lunch or something. We are definitely eating out less and ordering less takeaway. It is expensive to order a dinner for four people.”
John says, “Our new home is a good distance from the village, so it isn’t as as easy to get pizzas and takeaways delivered. A lot of the restaurants around here have closed recently too.
“It is important to support local businesses, so we’d buy a few things in the smaller shops in Sallins sometimes. They sell absolutely everything in this Tesco, so you often find yourself buying stationery or electrical items with your food shop. I got my hair cut today too.”
BARROW STREET, DUBLIN 4
Eurospar’s flagship store, which is beside Grand Canal Dock Dart station, has a noodle bar, a deli, an off-licence, an Insomnia coffee shop, a butchery and a post office. Customers range from young Google and Facebook staff stopping for breakfast on the way to the office to local pensioners doing their weekly shop.
LARS ZELANDERis 28 and is an account strategist for a technology company. He is from Denmark but has been living in Ireland for almost two years.
“Our lunches are provided in the office, so I shop here only for small things, such as cigarettes, or to use the post office. I shop in the Tesco near where I live for food, or in Fallon & Byrne if I’m going all out.
“In Ireland there are more delis than in Denmark; there are more options to buy readymade or microwave food. It makes things very easy. If you finish work late you can pick up a dinner that you can make quickly. Tesco and Marks & Spencer do good meal deals, with dinner, dessert and wine for about €12. They are very good value.
“I was surprised when I came here that the prices were roughly the same as in Denmark, because groceries are very expensive there. I was expecting Ireland to be cheaper.
“I miss Danish products such as rye bread. They sell some things in Ikea, so when I’m going out to buy something there I sometimes stop by the food section.”
SUSANNE O’BRIENis 47 and lives in Ringsend with her husband and 17-year-old son.
“I’m in here nearly every day, because I live around the corner. It is a local store, and all the staff are very friendly. I know them to see because I am in and out so often. I do a big shop every two weeks in Tesco because buying in bulk there is cheaper, but I buy day-to-day things like bread and milk here.
“I look out for more special offers and am more aware of what I’m spending. You have to be, the way things are now. I used to work in childcare, but I haven’t worked for about four years. I am a stay-at-home mother now.
“I cook every day. I’d buy frozen pizzas the odd time but no other ready meals. We used to go out on a Sunday for dinner, but that’s all stopped. People can’t afford to eat out any more. I spend a lot on groceries, even though there’s only three of us. I always end up coming out with more than I went in for.”
BRIAN BYRNE, who is 29, is studying international relations at DCU. He lives in Ringsend with his partner.
“ I am a mature student living day to day at the moment, so I shop regularly but for just a few things. I was working before I went back to college, so my finances have changed hugely. The student grant was slashed last year which has made a big difference.
“I cook at home a lot more now than I used to, because of cookery programmes and websites such as bbc.co.uk/food, and because it is cheaper. We can’t really afford to eat out. We go out for a meal together about once a month, much less often than we used to.”
ROBERT DORANis 27 and is a digital producer for a marketing company. He lives in Swords.
“I was at a meeting in an office around the corner and stopped in to the shop before I jump on the train home. I bought the ingredients for spaghetti Bolognese. I live with a few other guys and we share the cooking; it’s my turn tonight.
“I pick up something on the way into work for breakfast and eat out for lunch most days, so I don’t buy a lot of food in the supermarket. If there’s a good special offer on I buy in bulk and freeze some of it. Shops like this do good offers on boxes of beer, so I come in for them and buy a few other things while I’m here.