By Angela Catterns 

Last week we heard that Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien is stepping down, the giant food store has downgraded its profit forecast by $300 million and 1200 employees will lose their jobs. 

Woolies and Coles are under threat from Aldi and another big German player, Lidl is headed our way.

All is not well in the giant supermarket business. 

When my local Woolworths closed for renovations, I started shopping elsewhere and I’ve rarely been back. 

My habits changed completely as did those of some of my neighbours and friends. In fact, our consumption and opinions closely align with the findings of Woolworths’ own research report.

In 2014, they released a study that predicted what Australians’ shopping habits will be in 20 years time. The ‘Future of Fresh’ found customers will look for a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to food. 

It highlighted the importance of selling locally sourced food – a significant trend that’s on the rise. 

So when a leaflet was dropped in my letterbox, about a home-delivered grocery service –, I subscribed. 

Now I receive a magnificent box (recycled) of in-season fruit and vegies delivered to the door. The produce in this box is a revelation. The potatoes are so fresh I had no idea spuds could taste this good. There’s a carton of eggs from a genuinely free-range chook farm, a posy of fresh herbs tied up in string and a bunch of flowers. 

The couple who offer this service go to the markets a couple of times a week, buy what’s in season, make up the boxes and deliver them on the same day. Everything is loose in the box except for small paper bags of things like grapes and peas. 

Thankfully, there’s not a plastic bag in sight. It’s a bit more expensive than the supermarket but it tastes twice as good, it’s delivered to the door and I get a sense of satisfaction knowing I’m supporting a small local business. 

The rest of my household needs I buy from other specialised small businesses.

A couple of doors down from Woolies, there’s a shop that sells porridge, muesli, dried fruit and nuts in bulk. Just like an old-style corner store where you scoop out the items and put them in paper bags. 

A short drive away there’s a shopping centre with a great deli and a friendly butcher. 

I’ve stopped the stress-inducing cruise of the supermarket car park. Unless it’s early in the morning or late at night, there’s not much chance of a vacant spot so I rarely bother any more. 

I no longer dutifully push a giant trolley up and down the maze of aisles, filling it up with over-packaged stuff that’s travelled a long way to get here and that’s not particularly good for me. 

Nowadays, I buy as little as possible from the supermarket. Toilet paper, toothpaste, maybe some pet food and that’s about it.

My 23-year-old daughter and her friends actually believe the giant supermarkets are evil. They say they’re devoid of ethics and they make profits at the expense of farmers, the environment and the welfare of animals. Not to mention the bad press involving fresh bread from Ireland, killer frozen berries from China and the Jamie Oliver debacle where suppliers had to contribute money to the ad campaign.

If I was in Colesworth’s marketing and communications department, I’d say we have a real problem. These young women are the grocery-buyers of the future.

Of course Colesworth’s driving force is to maximise profits, while offering endless bargains to their customers. But increasingly more of us want more than bargains and are starting to question the real cost of cheap products.

Maybe it’s time for serious change in the giant supermarket business. 

Though they really should be wary of closing down for renovations.