People and shopping in Australia – Tuesday 8th November 2011

I like chemists and pharmacies in Australia. Mostly because it’s one place where we can actually buy things! You see, when traveling, there is only a very limited amount you can carry. We started with nearly the limit in weight for a plane and have no wish to incur additional fees, besides which I cannot carry much more and the bags cannot hold much more. So clothes, electrical, furniture(!) etc are out. And this makes it very frustrating to go round such shops because there is no point!

But medicines and toiletries count as essentials, and are light. Besides which the pharmacist seems very knowledgable. So today I present him with my sneezing and runny nose. It leads me to thinking about the shopping experience in Oz.

There are only two major chains of supermarket, Woolworths and Coles. The IGA are independents and often very small but local. I wonder what happened to competition here to limit the big boys. Who controls freemarket conflicts I wonder.

Shop assistants seem genuinely friendly. An example: a lady in Coles saw us paused at the end of an isle and asked if she could help locate an item. We laughed and explained that we had actually forgotten what we were needing so ‘no’! She moved on. At the check out the same lady was now behind the counter, scanning. She asked, “have you remembered what you needed?” when we answered ‘muesli’ she promptly replied we had already passed that isle. Fancy remembering who we were and where we had been!

“We’re from England,” we said (is that an excuse, I wonder?). So when we went on to buy a phone voucher and pay she stopped herself from the normal patter about club cards. You see she really listened. Small things but …

It’s all very clean too. There is very little litter or graffiti. People seem to obey rules; they only swim in stinger nets, partly because it is too dangerous not to, but I mean, they don’t even paddle!

Bus drivers talk with you, stop the bus exactly where you need to be rather than only at the bus stop. It’s very friendly and coming from London I am not used to this, it’s brilliant!


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