• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Why I loathe food shopping in Sweden

The Local · 31 Jan 2014, 08:46

Published: 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
Presented by American Express
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
File photo: Pixabay

Getting ready to jet off on summer holidays? Be sure to check out these tips and tricks for avoiding unnecessary headaches between packing and relaxing.

Royal husband: 'Britain should not leave the EU'
Sweden's Princess Madeleine and her British-American husband Chris O'Neill. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

What does this British-American husband of a Swedish princess think of Brexit and Hillary Clinton?

This Swede is the world's best mosquito catcher
Kristoffer Ekersund. Photo: Private & Johan Nilsson/TT

Yes, there is such a thing as the world championship in mosquito killing.

Which of these two Swedes is Vincent van Gogh's lost twin?
Ivar Arpi, a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh and Petter Samuelson. Photo: Tomlin Studio & Private

Question: What is even more bizarre than a Swede who really, really looks like Vincent van Gogh? Answer: TWO Swedes who look like Vincent van Gogh.

Date set for verdict in asylum home murder trial in Sweden
The accused in court with a member of his legal team. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

The trial of a man accused of killing a worker at a home for young refugees earlier this year has ended.

High security as Orlando top of mind at Stockholm Pride
This man might not actually be a police officer. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Nothing is being left to chance, organizers insist.

Fired Ericsson boss to get millions in payouts
Hans Vestberg of Ericsson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has fired its long-standing CEO Hans Vestberg, but said he will receive a severance package amounting to millions of kronor.

Sweden halves migration forecast figures for 2016
Refugees and other travellers arriving in Gothenburg last year. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

The Swedish Migration Agency has cut its predictions for how many asylum seekers they expect will come to Sweden this year.

Private holiday rentals boom in Sweden
A youth hostel in Sundsvall, central Sweden. Photo: Helena Landstedt / TT

More tourists in Sweden are choosing to rent private homes from the likes of Airbnb – but the hotel industry is just fine.

My Swedish Career
'Fashion is this big industry that can really do better'
Social entrepreneur Stefanie Smith. Photo: Elinor Magnusson

The Local talks to US social entrepreneur Stefanie Smith about transparent fashion and why Sweden's startup scene is about more than just tech.

Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
Blog updates

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 

11 July

Swedish quizzes (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I have created some quizzes you can take online to test your Swedish skills. Here…" READ »

 
 
 
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
National
Swede's fury at Daily Mail's Bråvalla 'lies'
Gallery
People-watching: July 8th-10th
National
Sweden and Denmark trolled each other on Twitter and it's hilarious
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,347
jobs available