16 October 2011

The Price of Water

I'm hard at work preparing two posts about Saturday, which will be finished as soon as my videos upload to YouTube.  In the meantime, a quick thought about price fluctuations and/or comparison shopping in real life, because I've never been anywhere where the differences were so obvious.

Here, it's recommended to use bottled water for drinking and cooking, because there is so much calcium in the tap water -- it's nothing bad, in fact it could be quite good, and I use the bottled water mostly for coffee.  One jug lasts me a week.

But since I live in tourist central, buying something as simple as 6L of water is a classic situation of supply, demand and convenience.  Between my house and work, there's a Lidl - a European discount grocery store very similar to Aldi - where I buy most of my groceries.  However, it's a bike ride away and I try to maximize what I can carry with me in my backpack and on the bike rack - water would take up too much space and weight.  In the basement of my building, there's a Spar - basically, a convenience store, and about a block down the street, a larger, independently-owned-but-catering-to British-tourists small grocery store.  Up and down my street, there are about 5 or 6 Spars.

All three of these waters are bottled from two places here in Mallorca. 
On the left, purchased at the Spar in my building, 5L of water for €1.98.
In the middle, purchased down the street, 6L of water for €0.99.
On the right, purchased farther down the street on the main road, 1.5L of water for €1.50 - same water as the one on the left.

Sometimes, the stuff at the place down the street is less, or the same price as Lidl.  I buy my coffee and a few other things in Palma because I've had to be there for something else and it was convenient and less expensive to grocery shop there than ride my bike farther to other normal-priced grocery stores nearby. 

This isn't about bottled water being fancy, nor is it about how easy it could be to rip off tourists - it's mostly about how sometimes, bulk is cheaper and there are questions of convenience involved.  The same goes for the type of cream I use in my coffee, the baguettes I buy for bread, and the ready-made gazpacho that's so refreshing and healthy; it's just been a long time since I can remember being somewhere where the differences in price were so considerably obvious. 

1 comment:

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