This week we learned the painful truth that men don’t like to spend too much time in supermarkets.

Weak long black, no sugar, thanks George

In a bid to placate their poor, overwhelmed male customers, retail giants like Coles have begun tweaking store layouts so “man-friendly” items can be found at the front of the store.

Apparently, as revealed by The Advertiser, blokes just want to “get in and out as quickly as possible”.

They simply don’t have the patience or the inclination to cruise “non-relevant” aisles in search of essential items, which include – wait for it – barbecue meat, seafood and Christmas mince pies.

So, ladies, what can we deduce from this news?

Can we assume that supermarket geniuses think women LIKE shopping for groceries? (Proof indeed that we need more women at board and executive level in Australian companies.)

Do they perhaps think we CHOOSE to dawdle in their stores, wandering contentedly among the “non-relevant” aisles, our lives enriched by three-for-one discounts?

Well here’s the truth: I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t hate shopping.

I hate it so much that I don’t plan properly, and then have to go back again tomorrow and the next day and the next. Down, down. It so gets me down.

The one thing I hate more than shopping is getting home from doing the shopping, and then having to haul all the green bags out of the car and pack everything away.

Only the dogs ever offer to help unload the car, but I fear they have ulterior motives.

So instead of focusing on the 50 per cent of men who are clearly lying when they say they’re responsible for the family shopping, perhaps supermarkets could improve the experience for those of us who actually haul our sorry arses through their happy canyons of consumer choice.

They could start by putting a hook on the trolley to hang our mega-wad of recyclable green bags, so they’re not underneath all the groceries by the time the checkout lady asks in an exasperated voice: “Do you have any bags?”

I hate that.

How about dedicating decent shelf space to brands other than their own generic products? No wonder Australian companies keep going down the tube when you need the flexibility of a Cirque Du Soleil gymnast to find their products on far-flung shelves.

And hey, one day a supermarket chain might actually make the aisles wide enough to turn around their ever- expanding trolleys, instead of corralling us all like sheep at crutching time.

I tell you what would make me WANT to shop: George Clooney. At the entrance. With a large cup of fresh Nespresso coffee. Weak long black, no sugar, thanks George. 

And then, every once in a while, George might walk the aisles with me, reminding me that we need shampoo or that we’ve run out of milk.

At our house there’s a “Bad Mother Alert” if we ever run out of milk – even though I don’t drink the stuff so surely can’t be expected to know when it’s running low.

So I’m sitting here, wondering why it is that supermarkets are pandering to men, and exactly why our dear menfolk are so overwhelmed on the rare occasions they arrive at the supermarket – scared and befuddled – to seek out their barbecue meat and mince pies.

Could it be that despite their claims to be responsible for the grocery shopping*, men just don’t do it enough?

Or could it be that they feign confusion in a bid to escape the thankless chore? (I confess I’ve perfected a similar look of bewilderment when Max explains the workings of our automatic timing system for drip irrigation.)

There’s only one fool-proof, long-term answer for it: more practice.

See you at the shops, fellas. I’ll be the one without a list, George Clooney in tow.

*If you’re a man reading this column and you’re truly responsible for the family shop, good on you. Do mine, too.

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    • ramases says:

      05:27am | 09/12/12

      Its not that men dislike supermarkets its just that they cant stand going to them with women. Men go in, buy what they want and get out, women have to go to every isle, with a list that they rarely look at until they reach the checkout and men realise that if faced with a choice of two or more items of the same sort women will spend an eternity looking at each and every item and then generally, nearly 99.9% of the time, choose the item that they choose the week before and the week before that.
        Have a good look at the men pushing the shopping cart for their partners and see the look of frustration on their faces as they realise that they are in for the long haul once again and there’s nothing they can do except to jump ship and go for a beer or two or three.
        Then there’s the checkout rush where the items are moving along smoothly and the woman is checking her list, probably for the first time and suddenly realises that she forgot to get some insignificant item so she disappears back into the bowels of the shop holding up the checkout whilst she searches and woe betide the poor male if there is a choice once again.

    • acotrel says:

      06:08am | 09/12/12

      My problem in supermarkets is that most women cannot even drive a shopping trolley without becoming road hogs.

    • Sickemrex says:

      06:41am | 09/12/12

      Not true. I only go down the aisles that have the things we need, whereas my husband goes down every aisle.

    • Bec says:

      09:20am | 09/12/12

      “Men go in, buy what they want and get out, women have to go to every isle, with a list that they rarely look at until they reach the checkout and men realise that if faced with a choice of two or more items of the same sort women will spend an eternity looking at each and every item and then generally, nearly 99.9% of the time, choose the item that they choose the week before and the week before that.”

      Nice generalization you’ve made there. Shame it’s not true. When I go to the supermarket I go armed with a list. I already know which brands I prefer and I don’t care about specials, so there is no “spending an eternity looking at each and every item” for me. I’m in an out in the time it takes me to collect my items and purchase them.

      It’s possible to make your point without making stupid sweeping statements like that. Didn’t you learn about this is school? Just because kittens like milk and Joe likes milk it doesn’t mean that Joe is a kitten.

    • BJ says:

      09:24am | 09/12/12

      Supermarkets should limit themselves to stocking a maximum of five different types of each product. There is no reason why we need forty different types of margarine to choose from.

    • ramases says:

      03:51pm | 09/12/12

      Bec, your one in a million if you are to be believed. How do you go at shopping centres, stop at every dress shop or shoe shop to “have a look’ whether you need something or not. If not then somebody should clone you.
        Its not a sweeping statement but one gleaned over 40 years of marriage and observation and most men would agree. The blank “shopping cart” stare as I call it is on the faces of most men charged with the task of going shopping with the missus, oh dear the feminists will be after me for that, as they know what awaits them . I’m lucky as we do the shopping together and I know what we need and where it is so the hold-ups are kept to a minimum but there’s always that crushing feeling when the list comes out, that moment when the heart skips a beat and luckily most times for us we can move into the checkout without having to wait. Ask most men what they think of going shopping with their partners and a pained, glazed expression seems to take over the features of their faces.

    • Gregg says:

      05:44am | 09/12/12

      It seems Lainie that some lasses were just never cut out for the marriage kids and shopping game and should have just stuck with a not living in lover and that would have minimised your need for shopping.

      I reckon your greatest problems are failing to plan and having a stash of long life milk.
      George could help but then you would be so ga ga, even any planning would have you floundering.

      Get yourself a bigger freezer and a pantry if you do not have one yet and how much will you pay me to do your shopping.
      You could just email me the numbers in the family and I would shop online for you to get a home delivery and all you need then is a George boy for packing away, cooking, coffee and feet massages.

    • Paleoflatus says:

      05:58am | 09/12/12

      My wife hurries through the supermarket once a week, list in hand. She gets angry enough to switch stores, when too many familiar items are moved around. She shops alone. I avoid shopping because of the mindless musical drivel that assails the ears and the cold that makes me hurry outside into the warm air. If supermarkets were warm and either silent, or played Bach or Mozart, I might accompany her.
      Of course, I used to walk out, leaving my trolley, if there were more than two in the checkout queue, as it’s quicker and cheaper to fill another trolley another time, than to wait. My time there is worth close to $100 an hour, due to my labour cost, the aggravating noise and the cold.

    • Philip Crooks says:

      12:09pm | 09/12/12

      I have left many a full shopping trolley at the checkouts.  Lots of people and some cash registers shut ,probably to save money , I could not believe that people would put up with that.

    • acotrel says:

      06:04am | 09/12/12

      I hate supermarkets and I don’t usually shop at Aldi, but I really love their gadgets.  Sometimes they sell a bit of motorcycle gear which is always good buying.  But the little hardware thingies, tools and electronic bits are really great.  My problem is that I often look at the stuff and intend to buy it later, and usually miss out.  I think I will have to shop with more determination.

    • Gregg says:

      07:53am | 09/12/12

      Aldi are quietly sliding towards the mega combo style market, Big W Bunnings Woolies combo and even their fruit and vege are usually good value but I reckon some could have been in storage a while because it does not last.

    • Fiona says:

      08:35am | 09/12/12

      Aldi has turned into one of those places where you have to go there at opening if want to get some of the specials. Some of them walk out very quickly, due to the hordes hanging about the” special” items. Doesn’t help if you work on the Wednesday, damnit.

    • Bear says:

      10:12am | 09/12/12

      I like Aldi because if I can’t afford to go overseas it’s the next best thing. It’s instant Deutschland. I couldnt care less if their foreign , woolies and Coles are the evil power. There’s a huge difference in price. We’re being ripped by the evil power.

    • Simon says:

      06:04am | 09/12/12

      I’m a man, I’m also a Dad. I go to the supermarket every Saturday and I have to take the kids with me. Every now and again my wife will shop during the week, she will get to go on her own as the kids are at school. I do not complain about it, and I do not need “man” aisles either. In and out, no messing around, and I love taking the kids too.

    • Gregg says:

      07:50am | 09/12/12

      Good on ya Simon and there’s some weak pussies of fellas about whinging about the thought of even shopping and all the problems when it ought to be just accepted as another part of living and it can be a joyful part too.
      Like some people reckon you need to go and have a coffee somewhere chic to see the people go by and there’s plenty of those in a supermarket and you can always take to a bit of sampling of the cherries you have just bagged plus get all sorts of ideas for food.

      The whingers need to do a Chris Paine course on manning up it’d seem.

    • Poita says:

      06:20am | 09/12/12

      I don’t mind shopping. Being a house wife/husband is a piece of piss compared to real work.

      Maybe we could be offended? Like we don’t want some vegetables with our steak? Those Christmas mince pies look disgusting. Who the hell eats them? Why would you want one of those on a stinking hot Christmas day?
      It’s about ham ,prawns and roast pork or it’s unaustrayan.

    • Gregg says:

      07:44am | 09/12/12

      Mince pies!, you do not know what you’re missing and betcha you thought you had to put tomato sauce on them!
      Wouldn’t taste so good then.

      Out of the packet, no heating and a dab of Greek yogurt, thick/whipped cream or even icecream and some brandy custard, real yum and you do not need to wait until Xmas.

    • Bear says:

      10:16am | 09/12/12

      Need to get quality ones though. Noticed how home brand are mostly peel, yuck, get ones with actual fruit.

    • Fed Up says:

      06:22am | 09/12/12

      Woman just love to shop…they will shop for check out all the zombie movies…woman in the Mall.
      Woman walk so slow….i’ve done 3 laps of the shop before my wife has gone down the first aisle….no shopping for me.
      Firstly the shops in Aus are to small ... the aisles are tooo narrow…parking generally sux…prefer to shop in the US anytime…better range of product,more space….cleaner and cheaper….and BETTER customer service.

    • ronny jonny says:

      06:31am | 09/12/12

      Shop online, delivery $9, what is your time worth? What is your sanity worth? You can even save your list so you can reuse it next week. Doing the shopping in your underpants while drinking beer becomes a reality, not an unattainable fantasy any longer.

    • Sickemrex says:

      06:43am | 09/12/12

      Yes Lainie, just another example of commercial ventures that treat women like mindless slaves and men like morons.

    • Geronimo says:

      07:07am | 09/12/12

      So very true, this male customer digit wastes more time in the checkout lines than selecting the lines to checkout.

    • Katie says:

      07:46am | 09/12/12

      I think men should be more offended by this ‘man friendly’ shopping than anyone else… after all, it assumes men can’t get their heads around finding food.

      I don’t mind food shopping. I don’t exactly love it, but I don’t hate it. My fiance feels much the same way, but he’s perfectly capable of finding his way around.

      Really, why would you marry someone who can’t even navigate a supermarket? It’s not exactly hard. Or if it’s that stressful, go late at night. 10pm grocery shopping is the best because the place is empty.

    • Brian says:

      01:38pm | 09/12/12

      Actually, it doesn’t assume at all that men can’t navigate the supermarket. What it DOES assume is that men get more annoyed at having to do so than women - it’s all about getting them out quicker, not helping them find the stuff.

    • Ben says:

      07:49am | 09/12/12

      >In a bid to placate their poor, overwhelmed male customers, retail giants like Coles have begun tweaking store layouts so “man-friendly” items can be found at the front of the store.

      Yes, nothing like a bit of Sunday sneering at the expense of men.

      Given Coles is going to considerable expense in changing the layout of supermarkets to cater for male shoppers (how dare they?), perhaps it may just be that men do half the shopping?

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:55am | 09/12/12

      I do my own shopping and I know where the things are that I want so I specifically target them. Shopping is easy

    • Fiona says:

      08:42am | 09/12/12

      Has anyone ever stopped to think that sometimes people take their time in the supermarket because they’re comparing price per weight, or what’s in the item for example? It’s really not because women love any shopping so much that even supermarket shopping will suffice in a pinch. Cannot stand supermarket shopping, but sometimes slow down from nearly running for this reason. I’ve done online, but you still end up having to go to the shops for fresh fruit and veg don’t you and the plastic bags it gets delivered in give me the shits. Plastic bags end up breeding in a cupboard, or you put them in the boot to take back to the supermarket and they sit there for weeks. I’ve occasionally thought of starting a business that shops for people, delivers and puts it away for them. I think it would do well.

    • Mouse says:

      08:55am | 09/12/12

      I love shopping, I love supermarkets, I love the specials signs and I love pushing trolleys.  Hell, I even start conversations at the checkouts while I’m waiting.  It has to be done, at least every week, so why don’t people just get with it? No use making yourself all frustrated and bitter about having to do it.  Taking a partner along does sometimes have it’s upside because that means, for me, that I get a cappucino at my fav cafe after the shop is done.
      Shopping is only the ogre you let it be. A bit like going to the dentist really!

      Or, if you just are so against it and never going to come to terms with the fact that it is a have-to-do, then do a “ronny jonny” and shop from home.  (thanks for the underpants and beer image in my head now rj!!  :o|)

      Life’s too short to be so pissed off at anything!  lol   :o)

    • ronny jonny says:

      10:24am | 09/12/12

      @Mouse at least I didn’t say “with hand down front of stained underpants, beer belly hanging over…”

    • Gregg says:

      11:04am | 09/12/12

      Yep, you can get some good openings at times like when at the register and a check out lady was asking what kind of apples they could be that the customer had bagged.
      I equipped ” delicious, like you! ” and then said to the lady behind me who was having a laugh ” that OK eh! “
      And then we got talking about the big pull apart damper style slab of doughy bread Woolies have and I had bought, saying it was just like scones and went down real well with jam and cream or crunchy peanut butter or whatever, more verstile than a mud cake!

      An then there was the time that a deli had their price on potato cakes wrong, I think it was something ridiculous like 30 cents / kilo instead of per each and so it was yes please, all you have and they gave them to me at the marked price.

      Then there was the relatively new shopping centre called Mid Valley at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley, nicknamed Mad Valley and they had a butcher who lived up to the name particularly with some Xmas specials on last trading day before.
      He was banging all sorts of meat together on a tray and basically calling for offers of just a few $$$ and if one did not come quick enough, he would dump the whole tray into the sawdust on his floor.
      I told him to scoop it all up and I’d give you a $, brushed the sawdust off at home and got the cheapest lot of meat ever.

      Yep, some good fun to be had chasing those specials Mouse.

    • Doodle says:

      08:58am | 09/12/12

      I hate the grocery shopping because it’s my husband that goes down every single aisle prodding every item asking my opinion.. I often send him alone! I like to shop (as my male boss says) ‘like it’s a raid, in and out’ grin

    • lower_case_andrew says:

      09:12am | 09/12/12

      “Well here’s the truth: I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t hate shopping”

      Well now that you’re on Planet Earth, you’ll be in for many surprises.

    • AdamC says:

      09:26am | 09/12/12

      This article makes me want to open a twitter account, just so I can make a witty tweet about it under the #firstworldproblems hash tag.

      Seriously, supermarket shopping isn’t that bad. But, of course, most of us (blokes and Sheilas) would like to be somewhere other than a large-format groceries dispensary. Buying milk and breakfast cereal is just not exciting. My boyfriend, though, quite likes wandering around the aisles, taking his time and checking out new product lines. It drives me mental.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      10:00am | 09/12/12

      We shop at the market each Saturday for everything except cleaning items and cat food.  When I do shop (30-70% of the time, depending on the week) I go to the same supermarket with a list and use the self check-out so that I can get in and out as quickly as possible.  Supermarkets are full slack jawed idiots drooling and ambling aimlessly, searching for the packet of chips that will fill the gaping hole in their lives (and widening stomachs). That’s not to mention the banal music, the stupid ads, the advertising stands placed just so, to create blind corners, the abysmal range of quality food…I could go on…

    • expat says:

      10:16am | 09/12/12

      You see Lainie, when men and women shop, they apply very different strategies and methods.

      Men in general do not shop for anything unless we already know what we need.  We then proceed to the closest shop that sells that product, we enter that shop and we proceed direct to the product with almost tactical precision. Our intention is to enter and exit as fast as possible, with as little contact as possible.
      You can send a man to buy 1 item, and he will return with 1 item in a very short time.

      Last week my gf went out to buy 1 dress for a night out, despite already having 10 million nice dresses (note sarcasm)... 6 hours, 3 dresses and 2 pair of shoe later she returns. This is not an uncommon occurrence, it is almost a weekly thing.
      She still wonders why our finances are kept very separate…

      Women, almost as a completely subconscious decision, will explore the entire shop as they progressively find things that they all of a sudden need. Take note of women’s behavior in shopping centres, they all do it, whether they admit to it or not.

      My money say’s it’s an evolutionary trait from the hunter / gatherer type days, shopping is very similar to foraging…


      10:19am | 09/12/12

      Hi Lainie,

      Meeting the man of our dreams in a supermarket? Absolutely not well may be in one of the Hollywood romantic comedy type movies, right? And forget meeting Mr George Clooney in a department store either, well may be in a Nespresso commercial.  I feel that he simply is far too busy and much too famous for all that now. As ti has been said time and time again shopping has a therapeutic effect on women as well as the fact that we tend to call it “retail therapy” sometimes jokingly and sometimes seriously. 

      Especially since the supermarket shopping experience and preparing meals, happen to be be duties traditionally meant for women, we don’t have to wonder any longer why?  So has anything really changed in the last decades except for all those frozen meals straight out of the supermarket freezer which make our lives so much easier?  And anyone can get those on the run whether you happen to be single or married!  But preparing a good meal always needs well selected ingredients and I have been told by close friends who have said that you can’t really on men to get those long lists right in big shopping trips to our local supermarket!

      So is it a lot of patience and sheer dedication on women’s side or just true obligation or the fact that no one else is willing, able or volunteering for the supermarket experience? In conclusion I am only guessing that men don’t do enough supermarket shopping simply because they haven’t had enough practice, in the past.  No point in complaining about the things we can’t change today.  Is it really a choice between having an empty pantry and a fridge or who is actually volunteering to go to the supermarket and willing to prepare meals too?  Kind regards.

    • Anjuli says:

      10:55am | 09/12/12

      My husband would starve if he was left a widower I am sure of it ,even his prescriptions are brought in by me .The only things he will accompany me for are big items like a new fridge, last week,chairs the month before,  where he haggles for a better price and gets it.

    • bec says:

      11:40am | 09/12/12

      My old man had a great system for grocery shopping when we were growing up, on the odd event my mum couldn’t do it.

      He’d divvy the list into three, give a third to each of us kids, and offer a crisp redback to the one who came back first. This system ended when my sister brained my brother with a tin of SPC peaches and we got to recoup all saved time at the local casualty department.

      Can’t wait until I have my own kids so I can foster this sort of entrepreneurial spirit.

    • NikRaf of Victoria says:

      12:21pm | 09/12/12

      shopping to men is like sex once they get what they want they don’t want to hang around after what they got

      unlike women who want to cling on to things

    • Rob says:

      01:36pm | 09/12/12

      Yeah men are basically Koalas. As in eats roots and leaves.

    • Rob says:

      12:26pm | 09/12/12

      Well Lainie you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and succinctly demonstrated why there should be LESS women on Boards. Really the giant of all giant issues.

      Some half baked idea on supermarkets needs your validation by elevation to the news story of the day on gender deficiencies, summed up by ‘50% of men are lying’.

      Perspective please Lainie.

      And as far as Boards go this is precisely why women do not cut it. No prioritising and addressing the essentials. Get bogged down on the irrelevencies while the task at hand slips by. Please look up what Gant and Pert charts are to understand the critical path that sees projects completed while others dither around on the irrelevent.

      Rather than relevent I think your article demonstrates a need for backhander side swipes rather than relevence. A five minute dose of glory at the expense of production, for an inherent swipe at men.

      Please read this and endeavour to grasp the essentials of why men are responsible for 99% of major achievements.

      Other than that the next time the need for a swipe at men is required, some how with a long bow to more women on Boards, I recommend you sit down until the feeling passes.

      Bet you can’t see the humour but hey give my comment a run. Others will see the lighter side

    • marley says:

      02:55pm | 09/12/12

      @Rob - interesting diatribe. I’d just mention, by the way, that you entirely missed the point of Lainie’s article, which is not about the failings of men but about the failings of supermarkets.  And if supermarkets don’t give a rat’s ass what their customers think, then perhaps they will disappear into deserved oblivion along with bookstores and Harvey Norman.

      Or perhaps you don’t think that improving the quality of store layout, the accessibility of products and the level of service need to be priorities for them?  That the business of operating a supermarket ends when the building is built and the shelves stocked?  If that’s the thinking, then perhaps we need fewer men on the boards.

    • Rob says:

      03:27pm | 09/12/12

      Marley your comment shows inciteful depth beyond the average IQ. Nevertheless you’ve missed my point to Lainie because you too are labouring on the irrelevencies as well. Never mind it goes with the package. Although I do respect your superior intellect that allows you as with all women, to be expert on all topics as you never miss one. Despite the usual feminist defensive cohort, that also goes with the package.

    • bec says:

      03:56pm | 09/12/12

      It’s not “less women on boards”! It’s “fewer women on boards”! God, I hate it when people make that mistake!!!!!

      Also, what the Jesus is with your whack-ass punctuation? You aren’t exactly proving your argument here…

    • lilith says:

      01:49pm | 09/12/12

      BS! Supermarkets don’t care about what men or women want from the shopping “experience”, they only care about their bottom line.  Hence, milk and bread will always be located at the furtherest corner from the entrance and the checkouts will always be lined with chocolate bars. 

      They will announce their new “man-friendly” layout but they won’t change a thing.

    • ol matey says:

      02:07pm | 09/12/12

      How to get a feminist into a rant:

      1. Have a company cater to the male demographic
      2. Release a PR statement that men behave in certain ways and you’re responding to this behaviour
      3. Step back and watch the oppressed, the tired, the hungry, and the poor whinge

    • Rob says:

      03:52pm | 09/12/12

      Oh and Marley if you can’t extracateyour thoughts from the need to defend any precious little comment from the sensitivities impacted upon by any comment that does not pedastal our delightful female gender, then why the refence to 50% of men being liars, and Boards, being brought into an intellectual lightweight topic of supermarket layout, so that some derision can be levelled at men as a tool for interest..

      PS I don’t think you’ve demonmstrated Board potential either. I’m on two (successfully).


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