Politically correct Woolworths

Australia's Woolworths is very different from the now defunct U.S. Woolworths and the nearly defunct British Woolworths. It is in fact one of the world's most successful retailers, with a huge share of its national market. No matter where you go in Australia, Woolworths is most often the nearest supermarket. It is in some ways Australia's version of Wal-Mart. So they obviously have a management culture that repeatedly produces good decisions. And, as a result, I have a substantial investment in their shares.

I have noticed in recent times, however, that they have begun to abuse their market power. They only stock what they want you to buy rather than what you want to buy. And one aspect of that is politically correct stocking.

I went in there this morning with the aim of buying Christian-themed Christmas cards. Although I am an atheist, I think that a major Christian occasion should be recognized as such. But when I looked at the cards on offer, they were all Santas, reindeer, Holly etc. Nothing Christian at all. So I didn't buy.

Just outside the Buranda Woolworths however there is a small Indian shop which, in the best Indian tradition, crams an amazing variety of goods into its small space. So I popped in there to see if they sold Christmas cards. They did. And some of the cards on offer were Christian-themed! So I bought them. How odd that I had to go to a Hindu to buy Christian cards! A final irony, however, was where the cards were produced -- in Muslim Indonesia. What a crazy world!

As I set out at some length on Nov. 6th., another instance of Woolworths' abuse of their market power is their messianic zeal for twisty light bulbs. At that time, they did sell a few incandescent globes if you looked hard enough but their lighting display was dominated by every conceivable type of twisty.

It has now got worse. They no longer sell the old 60c incandescent globes at all. There still are incandescent globes there but they are advertised as "dimmable" and cost around $3. Which is total nonsense of course. People have been using the old 60c globes with dimmers for decades.

I am beginning to think that I should lodge a complaint under the Trade Practices Act alleging an abuse of market power. Since the Trade Practices commissioner is probably politically correct too, however, I may not bother.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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