• Sweden edition
 
Northern Dispatches
Why I loathe food shopping in Sweden
Paul got tired of the trek to the store, turning to the net instead. File: Jsandb/flickr

Why I loathe food shopping in Sweden

Published: 31 Jan 2014 08:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 31 Jan 2014 08:46 GMT+01:00

Like most men, I’m not a fan of shopping. But while I disliked it in London, here, in northern Sweden I absolutely loathe and detest it. It’s my own fault admittedly. It’s 20km to our nearest small Coop and 60km to the nearest decent-sized supermarket. Let’s not even talk about Systembolaget. We may have a spectacular view but a lake on our doorstep is the only convenience to hand. 
 
Our isolation also means we cannot avail ourselves of one of the great modern decadences - supermarket deliveries. Never mind lugging great loads of bottled water, cat food and washing power home, just have it delivered. How I miss that.
 
Shopping habits up here are different to the UK, too. Not many people seem to do big fortnightly shops. Most shoppers seem to buy around 20-30 items max each time. Even the conveyor belts are shorter and narrower than their UK equivalents. Check-out staff regard our gargantuan 3,000 kronor ($460) hauls with amazement - are we settling in for the apocalypse? I’ve not yet come up with a theory for this more piecemeal approach to food shopping. This failure bugs me. 
 
Another real bug is the awful state of the vegetables on offer at supermarkets - we regularly find rotting peppers or carrots in bags of vegetables. I thought it might be a peculiarly northern Swedish problem but, according to friends down south, vegetables are pretty manky there too. I don’t have a theory for this either. I had one for the north - the short growing season - but that shouldn’t really affect the south.
 
But the real issue with Swedish shopping is the prices. Yes, I know - the Swedes earn more and so retail prices are higher. That’s not much of a consolation when little of your work pays Swedish rates and you’ve two 8-month-old babies to feed. So we’ve turned to internet shopping in order to trim our household costs. We saved 50 percent on buying a cooker from Germany, 75 percent on buying new specs from the UK and 20 percent on buying winter-wear from the US (and, yes, that includes the dreaded customs charges). 
 
We’ve also found a way to save money on some supermarket staples. For the last six months we’ve been buying all our tea, washing powder, fabric conditioner, nappies, cat food, dishwasher tablets, shower gel, shampoo, bin bags and wet wipes from a single online retailer. The fact we’re saving on average 10-15 percent on Swedish prices is not such a surprise. Nor is the fact that the regular shopping is less stressful when you don’t have to lump the heavy stuff around. The fact that the online retailer is Amazon does come as something of a surprise to many people when I tell them of our online thrift adventures. 
 
Sadly most of these people are, like us, ex-pats, eager to save money wherever possible. I have quickly learnt that our Swedish friends have absolutely no interest in our tales of money-saving. Their eyes glaze over, their attention wanders and they begin to look a little uncomfortable, as if we were speaking openly of our love for dogging. Why is this? Are their lives really so comfortable that they have no need to save cash now and again? Or is it because they find talking about money to be distasteful? It certainly explains why Amazon won’t be getting any additional customers from northern Sweden any time soon.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Politics
Reinfeldt's top team hold last meeting
Fredrik Reinfeldt is exiting Sweden's political stage. Photo: TT

Reinfeldt's top team hold last meeting

Sweden's outgoing centre-right cabinet have gathered for their last meeting, as Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven prepares to take over as Prime Minister. READ  

Interview
Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Geena Davis. Photo: AP

Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'

Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Geena Davis was an exchange student in Sweden in the seventies and was once engaged to a Swede. She chatted to the The Local's Natalia Brzezinski about how she'd love to star in a Swedish movie. READ  

Politics
Löfven in U-turn over restaurant sales tax hike
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Löfven in U-turn over restaurant sales tax hike

Incoming Prime Minister Stefan Löfven won't be increasing taxes in restaurants as promised, despite his strong criticism of the former government's tax cuts in 2012. READ  

Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: 2nd - 9th October
The Weeping is one of the works on sale this weekend. Photo: Stockholm's Affordable Art Fair

What's On in Sweden: 2nd - 9th October

Stockholm's Affordable Art Fair returns, British rocker Midge Ure is in Malmö and one of Gothenburg's most creative spaces is hosting a ten year anniversary party. READ  

Sport
Malmö beat Olympiacos in Champions clash
Rosenberg celebrates his second goal. Photo: TT

Malmö beat Olympiacos in Champions clash

Malmö became the first Swedish side to win a Champions League match in 14 years after beating Olympiacos 2-0 on Wednesday night. READ  

Education
Three Swedish unis in world's top 100
One of the buildings at the Karolinska Institute. Photo: TT

Three Swedish unis in world's top 100

Three Swedish universities were ranked among the top 100 in the world in the new Times Higher Education ranking, with another two featured in the top 200. READ  

What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

What's next on Sweden's political stage?

Upcoming Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced his new Red-Green coalition government on Friday, but what happens next? Here are all the important dates you need to know. READ  

Politics
Nuclear freeze agreed by new government
A nuclear power station in Forsmark, Sweden. Photo: TT

Nuclear freeze agreed by new government

Sweden's Social Democrats and Greens Party have announced a coalition agreement to halt nuclear energy development. READ  

International
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
A Swedish soldier in Afghanistan. Photo: TT

Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection

The Migration Court in Malmö has ruled that Sweden's Migration Board was wrong to reject the residence applications of seven Afghan interpreters without assessing their protection needs. READ  

The Local List
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
Speak Percussion will perform at Connect in Malmö in November. Photo: Connect

Top five winter festivals in Sweden

Autumn has swept into the country and chilly days lie ahead. But there are plenty of winter festivals where you can warm up in the coming months. With tickets already selling fast, here are The Local's top tips. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching: October 1st
Analysis
Should Sweden's school age be raised?
National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
National
JohannaN: Jewellery inspired by northern Sweden
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Blog updates

01 October

Future tense – ska or kommer att? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej igen! Karen had a question the following question on that about future tense: Explain when you use “komma att ” and “ska”. I’m running along forever here using “ska” and realize suddenly everyone uses “komma att” this and that all the time! In Swedish there are three different ways to express future tense and they are not..." READ »

 

01 October

Academy-Award Winning Actor Geena Davis on Changing the Way We View Women in Media (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"There are two moments in Geena Davis’s life that molded her into the powerful women’s advocate and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media she is today: living in Sweden and starring in Thelma & Louise. The first part of her personal journey took flight in Sandviken, a small rocky town east of..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

866
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN