When I was in England last month, and since I did some cooking for friends, I did some grocery shopping at Tesco stores.
I am now irritated at Tesco, based on what I read in the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, by Francis Phillips. An excerpt:
Why on earth is Tesco promoting [London Pride, the UK’s largest gay festival]? Tesco is a supermarket; its remit has been to sell good-quality food and other items at very reasonable prices, and in this it has been hugely successful. Why has it now aligned itself with an aggressive political organisation such as Pride London? Why has it given up its sponsorship of Cancer Research? Or at least, if it has given up this sponsorship, why hasn’t it taken up with another mainstream charity such as the British Legion or Age UK? There are thousands of ex-servicemen and wounded soldiers needing help in this country, and millions of elderly people in danger of neglect. They are a fundamental part of the fabric of our society – the kind of fabric that Tesco should be reflecting. Why, why, why?
I understand that one in four of the British public shops at Tesco. It is certainly “diverse and international” and a place where “everyone is welcome” – whatever their orientation. Who cares about other people’s orientation when they are shopping? It’s about making ends meet, balancing the family’s food budget, getting value for money and picking up bargains (including Bogofs). I shop there and have done so for years. At its doors there are often charity workers asking for money – notably Children in Need and other worthwhile causes.
Inside the store you can see why it is so successful: organic food, Fairtrade, low-fat, corn-fed chickens, free-range eggs, a range of healthy options, vegetarian foods – any possible new demand has Tesco instantly on its heels with a shelf load of new items. For my taste there is too much Halloween junk, too much piped muzak, too much “Christmas cheer” too soon and too many Easter eggs on display by New Year’s Day – but these are small quibbles; that’s how a retail business works.
But to throw its enormous weight behind a marginal group (but which also has a determined and sinister political agenda) that does not in the least reflect the huge majority of its customers – why?