Monday, 21 February 2011

Shopping In Bath

Bath is a beautiful place to live. It has some of the most amazing views, great history and stunning architecture. I've lived here all my life and it's taken me to my twenties to appreciate how lucky we are.

What I don't enjoy about Bath is the shopping.

Shopping in Bath is classist, catered towards those earning a larger wage packet. There has been talk of Lidl and Tesco, yet nothing seems to be happening. This surprises me since a lot of people come to Bath to retire so are on a fixed income. There are also a lot of students, which are often looking for the cheaper products because they're dealing with so many other expenses.

I live in Twerton. I don't own a car. I can't travel well without feeling sick, so buses for any long amount of time are out. I think we get a raw deal here and I can show you that just by showing you the difference in prices.

The Co-Op Local in the high street and Costcutter by St Michaels school are the two nearest shops. In the Co-Op, cat food costs 78p per tin. In the Costcutter, it's 80p. The next closest is the One Stop at the top of shophouse road (also the closest free cash machine), which takes about 20 minutes for me to walk up and is steep enough that I doubt any retiree could manage it. The cat food here is 60p. See the difference already?

Now if we go across the water to Chelsea road, another twenty minutes or so walk away, there is another free cash machine (which breaks semi-often) and here is where you can get excellent value. Newbrige Road shop, for instance, provides almost all of it's products at significantly cheaper prices than any shop closer. Whether it's Apple & Blackcurrant juice (£1.15p in Co-Op local and 85p here) or an indulgent Wispa (70-odd p in the Co-Op and 50-odd p here), while it's a trek to get here, ultimately one of my favourite places. They also have the Nisa, which constantly has variety but I'm a relatively small girl and I can't carry much, so I can't do most of my shopping here. I've tried and almost stretched my arms out.

If we go over to Moorland, 25-30 minutes away, we get a relatively good deal. However, it feels as if a lot of the heart and soul of this place is gone. Bakeries are gone, leaving Greggs which is massproduced and just not the same or a place that sells baked goods alongside being a cafe. The "Local" prices in Sainsbury's are between 1p and 30p more per product that 15 minutes walk down the road but still is often cheaper than the Co-Op. McColls is often shockingly expensive, with a £1.45p Sunflower Oil (Sainsburys) costing more than a pound more.

Now we get onto Sainsbury's. People who say we have enough Supermarkets in Bath have not been to Sainsbury's. The shelves are empty, the products are often out of stock and it's always packed to the brim because for a lot of people, it's the only option.

Now I don't know about you, but I can't walk 45-50 minutes with groceries, so that gives me a choice of getting a Wessex Connect bus (which only comes once and hour and sometimes doesn't bother coming at all) for £2.40 roundtrip or going to get a 5, which will cost you £3.80 roundtrip, which is ridiculous when you consider an all day ticket is £4 and you can get a taxi home for about £6 (the cheaper option if you're with a friend).

Now we're faced with going into down, which has an iceland (which is great for frozen food), two Sainsburys locals and two top end shops: Marks & Spencers and a Waitrose. Both I can shop in for occasional goods, but unless I want to be spending about £140 on food a week, I can't do a main shop there. Not to mention Marks and Spencers is often as crowded and empty shelved as Sainsburys. So that leaves going over to a Morrisons in the London Road. Morrison's are excellent value, but I have to get two buses to get there and that's £4 off the bat already, I have done similar shops in Sainsburys and Morrisons and the difference in what I spent came to about £15 in savings. Well worth having to get four buses, lug bags everywhere, walk down because they've decided to move the bus stop there just to make us even more inconvenience and take about 4 hours to do it all. Even then, though not as empty shelves at the others, the difficult in getting there is a pain.

So what are the reasons for not giving us another supermarket? The traffic. Well, they put a bunch of designer shops and a bus station that causes traffic hell in Southgate, so that's really not a viable argument. We have big expanses sitting empty in Bath and it's alright for people with cars or enough money to get taxi's everywhere, but for those of us who don't, we'd really like to not have to waste another 2 hours getting to a supermarket or be constantly disappointed by empty shelves. Britain is already crowded, with many beautiful old buildings being knocked down, so I don't understand why some of these can't be converted into shops for those of us not in the "designer" price bracket.

It will bring jobs to an area where joblessness is down, it will help the community to have more variety and better access to food and I will still go to Moorland Road, because I don't go there for Supermarkets. The Co-Op barely qualifies and it's the only real one there. You can support Moorland Road and still want a supermarket - particularly if it's one closer to Twerton!

I know the residents here would appreciate it, especially the elderly ones. I can only hope that people see sense and past the flaws to see how many pro's there are to it.