- a blog about food and value

Supermarkets: stop wasting our energy and cash

fridgeWere yis born in a barn? People who stand in twos on escalators, lattes served in glasses, and men who wear trainers with business suits, rank alongside open fridges and freezers in shops as my top petty gripes.

When the fridge has no door, it wastes huge amounts of energy. They’re all at it, and it’s such a massive two fingers to basic environmental principles. It also adds to the supermarket’s energy bills, which ultimately jacks up the price of your shopping bill.

Last week, I swung by Tesco on Talbot Street on the way to bring some BYO to Pho Viet. I noticed that all the beer, and anything that needed chilling, was behind glass doors. Tesco had loud signs telling their customers how wonderfully environmentally friendly the supermarket was being.

I suspect that Tesco’s loud trumpeting is because many customers resent the joule or two of energy, and the extra 1.5 seconds, that it takes to open a fridge or freezer door. Shops worry that sales will be impacted if the customer can’t grab a product on impulse, but the experience of the Co-op in the UK, which introduced a similar initiative last year, suggests otherwise.

Many supermarkets here have freezer doors, but they’re not so keen on fridge doors, with cold, wasteful air blasting out from both the dairy and soft drink fridges. Tesco have trialled the fridge door initiative out in many UK stores, and customer feedback seems to be largely positive. I hope other Irish supermarkets follow suit.

 Forget about prices and customer service for a moment: what bugs you about our supermarkets? And which have you seen making positive changes?


  1. “What bugs you about our supermarkets? ” You’ll be sorry you asked!

    1 Check out staff carrying on conversations with the person on the next register. It is so rude!
    2 Staff buying groceries also chatting away with the person at the register and holding up the whole queue.
    3 Self service registers. WHY?!!!! Unless I am getting extra loyalty points for using one, I will continue to weigh my aubergines and sweet potatoes as mushrooms. It’s petty I know, but it makes me happy.

    As for positive changes, I still love Super Valu and their staff. My local one feels like a market in the old fashioned sense of the word.

  2. ‘ People who stand in twos on escalators’, ah ah, glad that I’m not on my own on that one!
    What bugs me about supermarket? The display changing every 2 weeks so that customers get confused. Marketing tool, I know, but I hate wasting time trying to locate items.
    Our local Dunnes keeps changing the basket tills queuing system, people get so confused, last time they did it no one knew where to queue. On the upside, we all ended up having a nice chat 🙂

  3. The Irish don’t queue anyway 😀

  4. I hate it when they don’t serve lattes in a glass! I always avoid the freezers without doors… Too many people picking up and putting back the product means it’s not being cooled properly… I’d love if they all had doors…

  5. I’m the one you may have spotted wandering around supermarkets, closing the doors of slide top freezers. I’m glad supermarkets may be moving towards more sustainable refrigeration options.

    I don’t mind self-service tills and don’t mind occasional chats between staff (assuming it doesn’t keep staff waiting). It bugs me when people stare blankly at you when you ask a simple question, but that happens in all walks of life.

  6. What bugs me is my local work-lunch-time Tesco’s on Camden St have sliding doors on all their fridges, but they don’t work; they won’t close either by design or lack of maintenance. I go around in there trying to wedge them closed & muttering to myself. That and the self-service kiosks, I loathe it. I’m with Antony Worrall Thompson and Claire on that one.

    And the filthy state of the store. And the food that is past it’s use-by date. Tesco are the devil.

  7. I’m not sure that’s a complement 😀

  8. Claire, you contradict yourself….you don’t like the staff chatting to each other, fair enough, but then you also wouldn’t have them engaging with their customers!! …so maybe you should stick to fleecing the supermarkets at the self-service checkouts then.

  9. No E, my problem is with staff chatting to each other and ignoring customers. I never mentioned that they shouldn’t engage with customers. If you re-read my post, my problem is with staff, in uniform, purchasing goods and holding lengthy conversations with the check out operator. See?

  10. But Claire, none of those issues make it ok for you to steal from the supermarkets!!