Yesterday I had my first visit to the main Co-operative supermarket in Nairn since Sainsbury's opened here back in August this year. I didn't need to buy much, or anything really, but as I was in town anyway I thought I'd take a glance and see what might have changed in the past few months - not a lot, in summary. I did buy a few things (some cheeses, some liquorice allsorts [which I only have around Christmas, as I gorge on them, however big the box!], and some paté), but only really so I wouldn't walk out of the shop with nothing.
However, I did notice a couple of items which illustrate the price differences, some pretty dramatic, between Sainsbury's and the Co-op. Sainsbury's is not known as a low-cost supermarket (and is generally a little more expensive than Tesco, in my experience), but for many things it seems to be positively cheap when compared with its 'rival' in Nairn! The two items I noticed in particular:
- Brussels Sprouts - bagged - £1.00 in Sainsbury's for 500 grams, but for the same price at the Co-op, the bag contains only 250 grams. In other words the Co-op is charging double what Sainsbury's charges for this basic, if seasonal, vegetable! It so happens I had purchased some loose at Sainsbury's a day earlier, and the charge was £1.90 for a kilo, a little less than the bagged price; I didn't notice that the Co-op had them for sale loose. I tend only to buy brussels sprouts in the run-up to Christmas and in January. I love them, either simply steamed or occasionally I will over-cook them deliberately, then purée them with cream and freshly-ground nutmeg; if I'm feeling in the mood I will pipe the purée into spirals on baking-paper to keep warm in the oven - I love it!
- Sherry - Amontillado - bottle of 1 litre. In Sainsbury's this sells for £6.49, whereas in the Co-op it is on sale for £6.89, a 40p (or a 6.2%) mark-up. I buy sherry of various kinds on a very regular basis and can therefore report that Amontillado at Tesco costs £6.47 for a 1 litre bottle, but the 2p price differential (possibly with similar savings on other items) is perhaps only partially worthwhile for a major shopping-basket, given that one must drive either to Inverness or Forres to shop at Tesco, so the slightly higher costs at Sainsbury's seem relatively unimportant. A further advantage of shopping at Sainsbury's for a regular sherry-drinker such as me is that, unusually for a supermarket, they have two different styles of Amontillado, a 'Pale Dry' and a 'Medium', whereas both the Co-op and Tesco have only one, of the 'medium' variety. Sainsbury's 'Pale Dry' is not quite so dry as a classic 'Fino'.
So, there we have it - the Co-op in Nairn seems for many of the kinds of products that I might wish to buy, even if they stock them in their much smaller floor-space, to be considerably more expensive than our new Sainsbury's. It is probably true that I am not your typical consumer, at least not in this area, but unless you live close to the Co-op and don't have a car, then I'd say it's a clear no-contest - shop at Sainsbury's!