How Do Supermarkets Both Provide an Limit Choice

Topics: Sociology, Game theory, Negotiation Pages: 6 (1700 words) Published: July 8, 2012
Melanie Smith
PI: B9163463

Essay Plan

Key Words:

• Positive sum-game- when the sum of total gains and losses is positive • Zero-sum game- small shops lose out to supermarkets gain • Seduced- consumers who are seduced by large supermarkets • Repressed-consumers who are unable to shop in large supermarkets

Provide choice

• Variety- Supermarkets provide more choice than smaller shops; this could be because they are larger and able to hold more products. They also offer other household items making it a much more convenient way to shop. (Allen, p.79, making social lives) • Choices- more supermarkets are opening 24 hours which mean people can shop at there convenience. Supermarkets also sell products all year round such as strawberries, whereas smaller businesses may only be able to offer products seasonally (Allen, p.79, making social lives). • Lower prices- as supermarkets bulk buy they are able to offer lower prices as they are usually able to negotiate with suppliers (Allen, p.66, making social lives) • Boost to economy- in rundown areas large superstore development brings tremendous benefits to local communities in the shape of jobs for the unemployed, improved self respect and skills development (Allen p69, 2009) • Better facilities- supermarkets can provide better facilities such as parking

Limit choice

• Forcing closure of smaller businesses- As bigger stores open they push smaller stores out of business. This limits people’s choice as to where they want to shop (Hetherington, p.46, making social lives). • Online shopping- although this can provide choice it can also limit people if they do not have a computer • Harder to access- as more stores open outside of town, it makes it harder to access for instance if you do not have a car or the elderly for example. • May not provide specialised items- smaller shops can sometimes offer more specialised goods such as antiques designer items or specialised food such as halal meat (Hetherington, p.17, making social lives). • Coercion- Big supermarkets coerce small town councils and planners to develop there whether locals want them there or not.

TMA 02

This essay will hopefully show how big supermarkets both provide and limit choice. Where people shop can be a big part of who they are or who they would like to be. Where consumers shop can influence social status and a sense of belonging among friends (Hetherington, p.20, making social lives). Where people shop is also influenced by affordability. Theorist Zygmunt Bauman (1988) refers to people who can afford to shop where they like as the “seduced” (Hetherington cited Bauman, p.25 making social lives).

More and more supermarkets are opening around the country often putting pressure on smaller businesses with high street stores closing down in there thousands across the country. This is often referred to as domination. This has restricted real choice for consumers in the market place (Allen, p.68/69, making social lives). When this happens consumers have no choice but to shop in the larger supermarkets whether they want to or not.

In the towns where people have a variety of shops, why are people still choosing to shop in bigger supermarkets? Well one of the reasons could be variety; this is because supermarkets usually have the capacity to stock more items. It could also be because supermarkets use a global supply chain, which means they use suppliers from around the world. This enables products to be available all year round such as certain fruits (Allen, p.83, making social lives). This in turn means smaller shops could lose profit as result. Theorist Dennis Wrong (1997) would refer to this as a zero-sum game. The variety of products available does come at a cost though, as food journalist Felicity Laurence points out that supermarket’s often buy from migrant...
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