business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times has an opinion piece by Stacy Torres, assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Francisco, in which she decries the decline of the supermarket experience.

An excerpt:

"Some people seek a bar or nature hike when they feel low. I go to the supermarket.

"My spirits lift as I stroll the aisles. I bop along to easy listening music. Exchanging pleasantries with cashiers lessens my loneliness. I celebrate the small wins — I procured broccoli (OK, and ice cream) — and leave with renewed purpose.

"As someone with depression, I find that brick-and-mortar businesses help me avoid isolation by providing a space to be alone with others. But my happy places — supermarkets and pharmacies — say they have seen increasing theft and violence.

"Locked glass cabinets safeguarding merchandise are now ubiquitous in chains like Target, Walmart and Walgreens. Asking clerks to retrieve detergent and baby formula is demoralizing enough, but businesses are implementing more severe security measures that erode customers’ spirits and our social fabric, even though it’s unclear whether shoplifting has become the national crisis that some retailers claim."

You can read the entire piece here.

KC's View:

I am touched by this paragraph from Torres' piece:

Grocery stores feed our bodies but should also nourish sociability, not strip our dignity. Companies claim the new security measures make customers feel safer, but they risk molding us into more anxious, suspicious people. This psychic weight has unequal consequences — those with money and tech savvy can just shop online. Others who rely on in-person shopping face disproportionate dehumanization.

As stores install necessary security measures to reduce financial losses, I think it is important to remember these words, because there is more than just money at stake.

In general, trust is at stake.  And to repeat an old Latin proverb that I've cited here often:

Trust, liken the soul, never returns once it goes.