With the benefit of hindsight, it’s abundantly clear that The Grocer isn’t too good at reading the future. And never more so than in 1947, when an editorial declared that: “the people of this country have long been accustomed to counter-service, and it is doubtful whether they would be content to wander round a store hunting for goods.”
Fortunately, The Grocer has not been relied upon to read the future. We’re here to report on the facts. In the present. The now. And when we do leer into the future, we try to let other experts prognosticate.
In this special issue, however, we are also looking back. As well as providing the usual news and analysis, this 150th anniversary issue is a once-in-a-generation chance to look back at the astonishing changes the industry has undergone, and to see how The Grocer has adapted to the market.
It’s been a hugely interesting exercise. Our special Grocer 33 report, for example, identifies that the equivalent cost of the goods in this week’s basket would have been 13 times higher in 1862 - a perfect illustration of why self-service, driving down prices, was bound to work.
It’s been quite challenging, too. In trying to identify the 150 Defining Moments of the past 150 years, was the birth of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M&S et al a ‘defining’ moment? Not really. Setting up a grocery store is no great shakes. Only 50 years ago, there were 250,000. We’ve argued, therefore, that it was not when Wm Morrison set up his bread and butter stall in Bradford, in 1919, that the Morrisons legacy was created. It was when Sir Ken Morrison took over the business in 1952.
Similarly, the creation of Coca-Cola by John Pemberton was not exactly a defining moment. It took a fundamental alteration to the world’s most secret recipe, and the involvement of numerous others, to shape and build the world’s biggest brand.
But hey! You’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve given it our best shot. Now it’s your turn. Tell us your defining moment. Share your memories. And don’t us ask to predict the future. Not this week, anyway.