In 1997 Tony Blair was elected as Prime Minister, the world learned that an adult sheep named Dolly had been successfully cloned, The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as the longest running prime time TV series and The Grocer 33 was born.
The Grocer 33 is nine years old this week and to celebrate its birthday we have gone back in time and asked our mystery shoppers to purchase the same list of items that we first shopped in 1997.
The results show that the cost of our original 33 item shopping basket has risen by 0.6% on 1997's price and now costs an average of £37.75 compared with the original price of £37.50.
Some of the products on our original list have changed in pack size or format over the years and some have even been delisted.
Asda now only stocks Flora in the larger 500g and 1kg format, while Morrisons and Waitrose no longer sell Piat d'Or wine.
Grocery prices have been rising at a steady pace since the beginning of January, and are currently up by 0.9% over the past 12 months as The Grocer Prince Index showed last week.
Comparison with our 2005 basket also shows that a number of branded products have risen in price since last year. The average price for Kleenex for Men tissues has been increased from £1.46 for 100 to £1.57.
Meanwhile the cost of an 800g Hovis wholemeal loaf has risen for the second year in a row and now costs 88p compared with 77p last year, and 55p in 1997.
Other products up in price are Andrex toilet rolls, eggs, and unsmoked back bacon.
The fresh fruit and vegetable section of our shopping list was the only one to measure a marked drop in prices on 2005.
The much publicised banana price war triggered by Asda has caused prices to plummet by 23%, and now costs an average of 30p for 454g. Meanwhile, Stella Artois remains cheaper than it did nine years ago. In 1997 we paid an average of £4.38 for four 440ml cans compared with £4.18 now.Availability
Asda Stockport, Greater Manchester
30 Asda's Stockport store provided 30 items. Three of the products on our shopper's list were not sold. Kleenex for Men tissues are only stocked in a twin pack rather than the single pack that our list requires and Flora is no longer sold in a 250g format. Meanwhile, this store no longer stocks Piat d'Or wine.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 10.20 Our shop lasted 52 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 11 minutes 10 seconds.
tesco Loudwater, Buckinghamshire
33 Tesco's Loudwater store provided perfect availability with all 33 items on our list this week. Our shopper also spotted bags of deals including a two packs for the price of £1.80 on Kit Kat ten-finger packs and a four for £3 deal on Walkers ready salted crisps six-packs.There was another tempting deal on Stella Artois.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 11.55 Our shop lasted 65 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 4 minutes 30 seconds.
sainsbury Kimberley, Nottingham
33 Perfect availability and customer service enabled Sainsbury's Kimberley store in Nottingham to win this week's Top Store Award. Our mystery shopper left the store with a full 33-item basket as well as spotting heaps of deals including a 14% extra free offer on Kleenex for Men tissues.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 14.30 Our shop lasted 46 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 3 minutes.
morrisons Brampton, Rotherham
31 Morrisons' Brampton store in Rotherham missed out on a full basket as it had run out of stock of loose tomatoes and Piat d'Or wine is not stocked. Our shopper noted that eight of the items on our list were on offer, including prepacked cooked ham, unsmoked bacon and Walkers ready salted crisps six packs.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 13.53 Our shop lasted 62 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 11 minutes.
somerfield Bradley Stoke, Bristol
30 Our shopper left Somerfield's Bradley stoke store in Bristol with just 30 items. The store was out of stock of Birds Eye garden peas and its own label natural yoghurt. In addition, our shopper was told by staff on the shop floor that the store does not stock medium sized whole frozen chickens.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 11.04. Our shop lasted 46 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 8 minutes.
waitrose Merthyr Road, Llanfoist, Abergavenny
29 Waitrose's Merthyr Road store in Llanfoist provided just 29 items for our shopper this week. The store was out of stock of six-packs of eggs and its medium frozen chickens. Meanwhile, Waitrose does not stock Tetley Tea bags in a 40 pack and no longer sells Piat D'or wine.
We visited on 2 June 2006 at 20.00 Our shop lasted 40 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 2 minutes.Who we visited
Tesco Express Nottingham
How they performed
Nisa's small high street store in Raglan, South Wales, was the only one of the five convenience outlets visited this week that provided all ten products on our shoppers' list. However, while the store scored full marks for availability, it lost a few points when it came to presentation. Our shopper said that the shop floor was awash with boxes of stock, which made it difficult to move around.
The cost of our basket at Nisa was £12.77, 68p cheaper than the price our shopper paid for nine items at Budgens. Nisa also had the cheapest price of the stores for a six-rasher pack of bacon.
The Budgens did not stock own label butter. However, she said a variety of branded alternatives was on offer. Whiskas catfood in jelly, Coca-Cola 2-litre and Mars bars were all on special offer.
Our Nottingham-based Tesco Express shopper said that the store sold quite a limited range of stock, even for a convenience store. Unsmoked back bacon was not available in a six-pack, Tetley tea bags were not sold in a 500g pack, and there was no own label butter to be seen. Both these products were available when we shopped another Tesco Express in Bristol three weeks ago.
However, our shopper gave the store a thumbs up for customer service and presentation. She completed her entire shop in nine minutes thanks to efficient signposting and had her bags packed at the till where she spent no time queuing.
Londis' Bristol store only provided seven of the products on our shopper's list. The Londis store did not stock an own label butter block. Fairy Liquid and Tetley tea bags were also not sold.
Spar was the only store of the five not to sell Stella in a 4-pack. At 42p it also had the most expensive price for a single Mars bar.Service Champs
Weekly winners since 12 June 2005