Online shopping: is it the answer?

Our big “green” and “red” supermarkets are regularly promoting the wonders and convenience of shopping online. You know how it works: you go online and place your order and like magic, your groceries are delivered to your door.

I was reflecting on the concept of online shopping for everyday food and household items following a conversation I had with one of our regular blog readers, let’s call him Darryl.

Being a baby-boomer and having grown up in suburban Brisbane during the heady days of the 60s and 70s, he identifies with many of the issues we cover in this blog.

Darryl’s mum lives on the other side of Brisbane and gave up driving a little while back. His mum lives close by a convenience store which is fine for the odd bottle of milk, packet of tea, bread and the like, but she needs to go to the supermarket every couple of weeks for her “big shop”.

So, being retired, Darryl regularly takes his mum shopping to her local supermarket where she can stock up on all those items that are not available from her local convenience store.

Being on her own, I imagined that the shopping list was not going to be all that long and would expect that half an hour would be more than enough to complete the week or fortnight’s shopping. But, how wrong was I?

Darryl agreed that the shopping list was not all that long and that half an hour should be more than enough. But the reality is, the shopping takes around two hours!

Why?

Well, for Darryl’s mum, the visit to the shops is a social occasion. Most of the time is spent chatting to people in the aisles of the shop and not actually doing the shopping itself.

I suggested to Darryl that he should take the list and do a quick dash around the supermarket. Once completed, he could go outside to a coffee shop and enjoy a flat white while reading the paper and waiting for his mum.

Great in theory, but Mum insists on pushing the trolley!

So, as convenient as online shopping for everyday grocery items may be for many of us, there is a generation of Australians for whom the weekly visit to the shops forms a very essential part of their social life. And for some, it may be the only opportunity they have to get out of their home.

When we speak about retirement related issues, it is easy to be consumed with all the financial aspects and overlook those other important elements including family and community and the need for social interaction.

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