• 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
Brexit vote
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Anna Kinberg Batra, of the largest opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: TT

"This is a sad day for the British and for Europe."

Brexit vote
Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT

Left Party calls "totally irresponsible."

Brexit vote
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote

Expat Brits in Sweden have reacted with shock, despair and uncertainty to the result of the EU referendum in the UK which was won 52-48 by the Leave campaign.

Brexit vote
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Photo: TT

The former Swedish EU minister, Birgitta Ohlsson declared that it was 'a morning of sorrow', after British voters opted to leave the European Union on Thursday.

The Local Recipes
How to make Karin's delicious Midsummer cake
Karin's cake. Photo: swedishfood.com

"We are very tolerant of other cultures except when it comes to strawberries."

Sweden named the world's 'most reputable' country
The flag of the world's most reputable country – at least according to one report. Photo: Fredrik Sanberg/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the most reputable country in the world by a new report. Find out why.

Why most students don't finish Swedish for Immigrants
More students are taking Swedish for Immigrants classes, but completion rates are low. Photo: Pontus Lundahl

Only four in ten students finished their courses at Sweden's state-funded Swedish for Immigrants classes in 2015, according to new statistics from a national agency.

Swedish police nab drunk-driving lawnmower man
Lawnmowers: dangerous, in the wrong hands. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A man in southern Sweden is at risk of having his licence revoked after drunkenly driving a motorized lawnmower.

Sweden has EU's second highest food prices
A shopper prepares for the inevitable fleecing. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

If your loaf of bread seems ridiculously expensive that’s because it is.

Here's how much alcohol Swedes drink on Midsummer
Systembolaget is a busy place around Midsummer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedes are known for letting loose on Midsummer, but the most recent figures from the country's state-run alcohol monopoly may surprise you.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Blog updates

17 June

Queen’s Birthday Stockholm 2016: 9th June. 90th Birthday. 900 Guests! (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"What do you do when you read that the Queen’s 90th Birthday in London will be…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
The Local Voices
Orlando reflections: Is it possible to be gay and Muslim?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Sweden to go ahead with migrant age tests
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th-19th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm school celebrates Nepal Project success
National
Will you be hit by changes to Sweden's residency laws?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
The Local Voices
Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job
Gallery
People-watching: Midweek revellers
National
Why this pizzeria is giving elderly Swedes free meatballs
3,330
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se