Saturday, July 20th, 2024

The stress of food shopping in Cambridge


Cambridge is awful for food shopping. Given that Cambridge could be given the title ‘chain capital of the world’, it’s no surprise that there is a lack of small quality food shops. Okay, you could go to Mill Road, but that’s a total nightmare when it comes to getting there as there’s no easy parking and the road itself resembles the M25 on a busy night. Also attracts weird people.

When it comes to supermarket shopping:

  • Tesco – logistically one of the best run businesses I’ve ever seen. Always staffed checkouts, always have stock. Shame that it’s turned into a low grade one-stop-shop. Coupled with the fact that you have to shop with the slum of the surrounding area.
  • Sainsuburys – total disaster. Basically a warehouse full of random bits of things you might want to buy. I think it’s a Cambridge mgmt thing as other Sainsburys I have been to (e.g. Ipswich) are excellent. The Cambridge one reminds me of scenes you’ve have on 80’s TV about the Soviet Union and lack of food. Also, poorly staffed checkouts- a couple of us once joked that half the checkouts were in fact dummy ones (like the TVs you have in furniture shops).
  • Asda – it’s at the Beehive Centre. Enough said, takes you on average 30 mins to get in and out. Off limits.
  • M&S – like a toy town store, poorly stocked, with everything having sell-by-dates that a corner shop in Glasgow would be proud of (ed: Glasgow corner shops are notorious for having food past their sell-by-dates).

So that leaves Waitrose, my usual choice. Again plagued with Cambridge issues. Specifically, the fact that any aisle will have at least 2 random stock trolleys in it. The trolleys could be filled with goods waiting to be put on shelves, but the particular favourite is when it is full of empty boxes. There is a Japanese business operations practice of ‘Just in TIme’, but this has to be taking the piss. It’s like they don’t actually have a stock room. No matter what time you go, on any day, you’ll see loads of these things:

So you’re trying to dodge around these bloody things. Throw in the lack of spatial awareness all the people have, and you have a stressful experience of having to raise your voice and say ‘excuse me’ (or sometimes ‘move’ if they don’t understand) all the time.

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