What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World

Groceries: they take up a considerable portion of our disposable income, we often love the ads for them, the packaging calls to us in an enticing voice when we wander about a store, the fruit and veg markets smell, look and feel fantastic, we all consume them (unless we are totally devoted to self-sustainable subsistence farming practices - rare). In short, we can't really live without them!

So, what does a typical week of groceries look like in different, 'average' families around the world?

Take a look at photographer Peter Menzel’s remarkable photographic documentary that gives us a look into the homes, kitchens and bellies of families from around the world.


Some observations:

  • If we’re going to talk averages, I think most people reading this would not recognize the Australian family. According to the ABS, the typical Australian family is a couple with two kids living at home, and residing in a capital city. While the chosen family may represent a stereotype of the average Australian household, this bias doesn’t seem to play out in the other photos (the one exception to this might be the Germans, ever organised!)

  • While the point of the exercise is to highlight variety, the ubiquity of Coke is a stark reminder of its global pervasiveness.

  • Personally, a week or two of a Turkish diet would suit just fine, as would a couple of weeks on a Japanese diet (just in time for our summer bodies to emerge down here in Sydney).

Your thoughts?

Christmas 2012 - Did You Notice Too?

Ever since I was a kid there were those stylised Pathe' News television images that peeled off the calendar days, that then blew away in a surreal winter wind and set out the number of remaining the shopping days to Christmas - do you remember?

Shopping Days To Christmas..............

And sometimes,probably set up just to spice up a slow news day or fill up an unwanted programme content space, there was that rather tongue in cheek announcement several long months out from the 25th of December that there were only "117 more shopping days to Christmas".

And sometimes there was the rather sad image of the poor chap who had forgotten to plan his his nearest and dearest gift shopping and was paying through the nose shopping for last minute Christmas gifts, enduring retail hell by navigating the crazed gift shopping crowds late on Christmas eve.

It was always so important to make sure that Christmas shopping was carefully planned so that no one got forgotten and that no unforeseen events interupted the carefully dedicated retail expeditions to designed to deliver the "Just what I always wanted" gift opening moment come Christmas morning..........

During December of 2012 I saw no calendar pages or dates being blown away by a surreal, filmic breeze.

But I did notice - without the similarly surreal tinkling of the postman's bicycle bell or the deep bellow of the cargo ship's fog horn - quite a large number of reminders that there was still enough 'International Shipping Time' for those carefully chosen Christmas gift deliveries.

“For the times they are a changin” - Did you notice too?

What is the future of shopping?

Not so long ago if I needed a new washing machine I would have gone to a home maker centre with a Bing Lee and / or Harvey Norman to get advice, compare models, prices and so on. After spending an hour or two thinking about the various pro's and con's of each model, I would then try with my best negotiation skills to get the price down and eventually make the purchase. 

Skip forward to today, I didn't even think about going to Bing Lee or Harvey Norman when my washing machine recently broke. I went straight to www.appliancesonline.com.au (where I've had previous good experiences), clicked on front loaders and did a sort on which models have been purchased the most, clicked on the most popular, checked the reviews, put it in my shopping cart, punched in my credit card details and clicked the buy button. I think the whole process took about 20 minutes. 

But it's not just washing machines people are buying online - recently the new Subaru BRZ Coupe, worth $37,000, sold out in 3 hours online. That's right, 5.5 million in 3 hours! Read more about the story here

No fancy black tie launch, no champagne, no fan-fare required. All the hard work had already been done by the online buzz and great reviews.

So, if people are willing to buy a sports car online without even test driving it or kicking the tires because the reviews they read online are good - what can we expect to happen to other categories in the near future and how are companies going to adapt?

Have you noticed ......Ostentatious shopping is out of fashion?

Thats right if you haven't picked up on it yet, 'dont brag about your new designer gear', 'brag about the second hand item you bought on eBay'

Have you noticed ......
Ostentatious shopping is out of fashion?

Many of us have less 'fun money' these days. Indeed, certain types who used to shop up a storm (bankers' wives, for example) haven't a been, leaving those still salaried feeling guilty about splashing out Meanwhile, we're told it's our duty to shop to save the economy. The upshot? We're spending more discretely.

 "As a society struggling with mortgage stress and credit card debt, we're rethinking extravagance," says Neradine Tisaj, author of How to Give Up Shopping (Hardie Grant, $19.95). "Bragging about the cost of your new designer gear seems a bit gauche now. In the current climate, people are more likely to show off something they've bought second-hand on Bay."

Sure, vintage bargains are all the rage these days, but for those fashionistas who prefer their threads fresh out of the packet, so too is sneaky shopping.

"My clients are still spending, but they're looking for less flashy things: confirms model-turned-personal-shopper Candace Lake. "And designers are taking note: a lot of labels are toning down their branding,"

This season, quality will be announcing itself with more of a whisper than a scream, which means overt designer logos are fast becoming no-gos. If your T-shirt announces that you 'adore Dior', it's time for a cover up. Also steer clear of signature checks, recognisable prints, and brashly branded buttons – that way, if interrogated, you can pretend it's a knock-off or an op-shop steal.

Perhaps this trend explains the latest Manhattan shopping craze of private after-dark store appointments. What's more, shoppers are requesting plain paper bags instead of branded ones, which give the game away. US label Proenza Schouler has discretion down: their satchels could belong to any schoolie.

For those who can't resist a dig at the fashion establishment, there's the irony option courtesy of Sydney-based label Bagladies, which has a 'Louis Who?' bag.

But however you decide to spend your money, just remember that too much shopping can damage your wealth.