Wednesday 20 March 2013

Grazing in the Supermarket

Like everyone else, I have a few pet peeves in life. These include people who pull out in front of you whilst driving and then break (grr), those who are always at least fifteen minutes early for every appointment (I am always the late one), and those who use social media as an excuse to lose any grasp on the english language and use words like "gud" "bin" and "n e fink" in place of their proper spellings.

Another of my pet peeves is people who graze, or let their kids graze in the supermarket. By graze, you know what I mean.. those who wander around the supermarket eating food that they have not yet paid for. The term "grazing" is often used to justify an act which is effectively, in my personal opinion, a form of theft.

From what I have read on parenting forums and the like, the subject of "grazing" is quite a controversial one. It seems to be one of those slightly grey fuzzy areas which some view to be perfectly acceptable, and which others, would never entertain the thought of. In a survey published in The Grocer magazine, 48% of people think that handing over an empty packet to scan at the checkout is wrong, whilst 52% of people think it is perfectly acceptable - showing just how divided people are on the subject of eating your way around the supermarket.

One in five supermarket shoppers in the UK admit to eating food before reaching the checkout.  Of course, the excuse of many is that they are fully intending to pay for what they have eaten, but unfortunately, this doesn't sit well with my personal ethics. As a child, I was always taught that you pay for something before you eat it, and I have always taught my own kids that they have to pay for things at the supermarket first. I must admit that I do feel irritated when I see people walking around the supermarket, or kids in the trolley eating their way around the supermarket, having not paid for their goods. I feel even more irritated when I see people leaving crisp or chocolate packets in trolleys, without the intention of paying for what they have just eaten.

Yesterday, I went to the supermarket and whilst there, I picked up a bag of crisps. When we got to the checkout, I noticed that the bag had been opened. Someone had obviously gotten there before me, had helped themselves to a few crisps, and then put the bag back on the shelf. Trying to do the right thing, I went and selected another packet, and gave the open packet to the checkout person. Rather than thanking me for giving her the open bag, and getting it off the shelf, she looked at me accusingly, and insinuated that it was youngest who had been eating them. I suggested that she take a look at the CCTV if she was really concerned we had been eating without paying for the goods, and told her how I felt about supermarket grazers. She told me that the supermarket are trying to cut down on those who eat their way around the supermarket, as it is starting to become a real problem. This was also in a more upmarket supermarket in an expensive area - suggesting that grazing is socially acceptable in all areas of society. As earlier figures suggest, if fifty two percent of people think that grazing is acceptable, I can see why.

According to a survey by security firm G4S, people who graze in supermarkets cost the industry £207 million a year. Although retailers bear the brunt of the cost, those costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer in overheads of one form or another.

Personally, I don't feel it would be my place to confront someone I suspected of 'grazing' in the supermarket myself - even though I have seen it happening many times, as you could never prove whether they had picked the item off of the shelf, or had walked in with it.

Ultimately, it seems that this socially acceptable form of stealing has now become a part of every day life.

What's your view on supermarket grazing? Do you think it's acceptable or not? Do you think most people who intend to pay for the items they eat actually do?


  1. Interesting post Clare! Personally I wouldn't eat or drink anything unless I was really desperate - like if it was a hot day and I was PARCHED. But I would definitely pay for the water at the end - otherwise its definitely stealing! I can't believe anyone would do that, surely they realise they're on cctv/other people can see them.

    The only excuse for eating anything is if you're absolutely starving, which I suppose is possible if you've got small kids/not a lot of time on your hands - I would personally never go to the supermarket hungry as I know I buy a load of crap when I am. But again, if you don't pay for it - it's stealing!

  2. I work in a supermarket and unfortunately I cannot tell people off for grazing, but I'd love too. Specially moms with toddlers! I find it chavish and tasteless.

    Yes, there's honest people that is gonna pay for it, but there's also dishonest people that think, well... the packet is empty, I guess no one is gonna notice if I just dump it in the toilet rolls aisle. People do this on a daily basis!

    I also complain about rubbish on the floor. Moms get the packet of raisins/jelly tots/haribo/mini biscuits, open it for their toddlers, and they find it more amusing to just eat one and drop the rest on the floor. I have seen it hundreds of times happen. You don't want to know how annoying is to step on raisins...

    Then we have these mothers that watch how their children crush a packet of eggs without saying anything. "I bet he's not the first toddler in history to crush a packet of eggs in a supermarket, just call the cleaners, they know what to do" one of them told me once.



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