There are winners and losers in most actions that incur change. Today, I’m talking about supermarket fridges.

Open supermarket cabinets like we are all used to, use more power than fridges with doors, which is behind the trend for supermarket fridges with items behind closed doors. It makes them more efficient. Reducing energy consumption creates a more sustainable shopping experience, but it does not necessarily make it an easy one.

It appears that fridge doors have been mooted for quite some time to help combat climate change, which seems all very sensible and logical.

However, this morning, I accompanied an elderly member of the family when they went grocery shopping. Her experience was made quite difficult by doors on supermarket fridges and the trend towards self-service checkouts with no staff obviously on the shop floor. She is a very intelligent but also very aged person and we discovered:

  • She cannot reach items on top shelves and no member of staff is around to help (her response is to do without).
  • Her eyesight is not great, so seeing what is behind the fridge doors is not always easy.
  • The actual doors are quite heavy, and it becomes quite a balancing act for someone not 100% steady on their feet to actually open the door, stretch for an item, take it and place it in the trolley. The strength and co-ordination required means nothing to a younger person but to someone older, it makes shopping very difficult.
  • Self-service checkouts seem to form the majority in many supermarkets these days, so there are long queues to actually pay for shopping with staffed check-outs – bear in mind, some older people do not see many people daily, so this is part of their social interaction.
When you are 5ft tall and want something from the top shelf behind the door
Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

Age Concern explains that:

Being able to shop for food is an important part of staying well and independent as we age. We support older people to be in control of what food they purchase with our grocery delivery and escorted supermarket shopping services.

This article is not even considering food shopping, but simply the difficulties of shopping for older people in the modern age. Luckily, many older people have family to help them but what happens for those who do not? Supermarkets, who rely on the so-called ‘grey pound’, need to think how to make shopping easier for older people as they introduce changes. Home delivery is an option, but not everyone wants someone else to choose their food for them.

It should not be a case of choosing between environmental and social issues, but for now, we will take our relative shopping in whichever store is easier.