‘How the weekly shop of the past has changed today’

Sep 25, 2021
Quick! We have to get the bags home before it starts to rain. Source: Getty Images

While I like the convenience of grocery shopping online and having it delivered to my door, I also still really love seeing and touching the products I am buying. More recently I’ve also enjoyed seeing the diversity of shopping bags people are bringing for their shop. I’ve seen the supermarket brands, football favourites, Disney-themed bags, and of course those who have handmade; I have a patchwork one.

A recent change in my shopping habits has seen me return to how it was done when I was a child. The shops were only open for a half day on Saturdays. My mum and I would do what we considered a ‘big shop’. We’d carry out string bags (Nan knitted a cover for my handles because my little hands go sore as the bags got heavier). I’m not sure what I loved more, the shopping or spending time with my mother.

Nan didn’t have a string bag, she carried a big square cane basket and I had a matching mini one just big enough for a loaf of bread and the billy of milk from the dairy. Honestly, I don’t know how Nan lugged that basket home. I was the second youngest of many grandchildren and I reckon Nan had to be in her 70s at the time. She was as tough as they come.

When we stayed with my nan and grampa, rationing was still a thing. I was fascinated watching the grocer and butcher cutting minuscule tickets out of a book. There was a real charm about the old-fashioned customer service we got back then too! So regular were we with out shopping, the grocer, butcher and baker would often greet us by name when we came in. I can’t tell you the last time someone greeted me by name during my shopping visit.

Do you remember paper sacks? My mother hated them!

They were always packed with more than they could carry and often something would go through the bottom of the bag. On a wet day we would race to see if we could get home before the bags gave way.

When I got married, we spent some time living with my father-in-law and brother-in-law. There were many ‘weekly’ food purchases.

We had a little car, but there was no way would I even have thought of driving it. Then came the Jeep, it was packed to the gunnels. I am a short and petite person, so it was an effort I can tell you!  I named the car Rosie (as you do) and there were many occasions where we were nearly taken out.

Here I am, an 81-year-old duck, in these very trying times. I thoroughly enjoy being able to walk up to my local supermarket and cruise the aisles with my supermarket bags.

Shopping in the past might not have had all the apps and online sales, but I remember it for being joyful and special.

How has shopping changed for you?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up