VISIT any of the grand supermarkets that have sprouted up across Karachi on any day of the week and chances are you will not be able to step into the area of your choice without jostling through men, women and children with over-filled trolleys that continue to be filled whether they have room or not.
Impulsive or thoughtful, the amount of shopping people do in modern supermarkets is mind-boggling and has turned this industry into a profitable investment in the business hub of Pakistan. The supermarket culture has bloomed in the last decade or so; now you can get almost anything under one roof, be it groceries, clothes, shoes, electronics, stationery, furniture, mobile phones, etc.
It does save a lot of time when you buy all your stuff from one place. However, the supermarket experience can leave you drained, especially if you shop at the beginning of the month when stores are packed with people, and it can leave you over budget while at times you buy unnecessary items without checking your basic requirements list.
What is more, if people didn’t clog the aisles for unnecessary reasons, stopped wasting other people’s time by discussing the number of items they need (which they could have done back at home) and read the ingredients of selected items somewhere else than in the queue of anxious people waiting for their turn, the experience at the supermarket would be much more enjoyable.
Fortunately, we still have the parchoonwala alive in many areas of the metropolis. However, with the passage of time, even many old-time neighbourhood retailers have either modernised and turned their shops into mini-supermarkets or have converted themselves into fast food or snack shops, which are more profitable.
Also, to tackle the growing competition from big supermarkets, many local grocery and meat shops have extended their services by delivering to your doorstep on one phone call. It does sound prompt and convenient, yet there is a chance of not getting your favourite brands all the time from these neighbourhood shops.
But aren’t these the same shops which had almost everything our mothers needed to run their kitchens, while we had a chance to go with our grandparents to buy cheez (code word for sugary/spicy snacks, candies, chocolates) for ourselves? However, it seems that with the changing times our needs and requirements have also changed.
Also, with the advent of the internet and social media we are witnessing interesting business concepts and sales pitches. One of these is online grocery shopping. With features like cash on delivery, discounts, special sale offers and doorstep delivery, online shopping is bound to make your life in this busy city much more manageable.—Rabab Abedi