This morning Marks and Spencer issued a shock profits warning. The share price slumped 20% on the news - with shares trading around 260p - last year they were over 700p. Food sales are down 4.5% and the Head of Food, recruited just a year ago (from Waitrose) has eaten his last meal in the M&S canteen.
My mother says the M&S ready meals quality has gone down. The packs have got bigger, but the contents smaller. I hardly buy any food from M&S anymore - the prices are ludicrous.
The threat to the environment from plastic bags has, I suspect, been grossly exaggerated. Ealing council has recently begun to recycle residents' plastic waste. Since introducing the new measure Ealing has hit the 30% recycled waste target every month. I'm not surprised. I manage to fill a large bag with plastic every week - even though I actively avoid buying plastic packaged fruit and vegetables. I don't throw away plastic carriers either. On a recent trip to Norwich the local Council was dispensing free re-usable cotton bags at a large branch of Salisbury's. I've been using the same cotton bag ever since. I think M&S will soon be rethinking its own bag policy. After all if you buy socks or pants they give you a free bag, but not if you buy bread or milk.
The news is full of shock horror stories about rising food prices. Today I was doing my accounts and sorting receipts. Among them a Tesco till receipt for exactly a year ago. By coincidence I bought some of the same items in Tesco yesterday. I compared the receipts. A pint of milk is up - from 35p to 42p, and 500g of Tesco Greek Yogurt from 78p to 98p. A can of Heinz soup last year was 59p, this week its 69p - but the same offer applies this week as it did exactly a year ago - buy 4 x cans for £2. Weetabix also has the same special offer as a year ago - buy 2x24 packs for £2, but last year a single pack cost £1.54, this week its £1.78. A kilo of loose carrots in July 2007 was 67p in July 2008 they cost 87p. The good news - a single lime is still just 15p (every lime helps perhaps?) I think I'll keep a few more supermarket receipts on file for next year.
Saving till receipts is a surprisingly effective method of keeping track of your cash.