Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 17:47 UK

Your stories: Budget food shopping

Food shelf
"I'm much more conscious about my weekly shopping" - Cathy, London

Marks and Spencer's food business has been badly hit by customers cutting back on spending.

BBC News Website readers explain why financial and environmental changes are making them rethink their shopping habits.

"I used to shop regularly for food at M&S but what has put me off recently is the charge for carrier bags. Quite apart from the fact that it is a simplistic and scientifically questionable idea that plastic bags play a major role in environmental problems, I feel this policy is passing the cost of being sustainable onto the consumer in an unfair way."
Mary, London

"My food shopping habits have changed for financial but mainly environmental reasons. I continue to buy quality food products but in smaller amounts. I avoid stockpiling as I used to and for fresh foods I buy for a shorter term and have as a result cut down on the amount of waste. My food bill is now smaller for this reason so I can see how it has an impact on retailers' profits. Maybe it's for the best in the long run."
Eugenia Eagle

"I used to shop at my local Asda which is a large store, however, it seems that no matter what I put in my basket or trolley, I always end up with a substantial sum to stump up at the tills. I have recently started shopping at Iceland and other smaller stores and have concentrated primarily on bulk buy or value for money products with fresh produce such as fresh meats and fish as a luxury rather than an everyday buy."
Ibrahim Gucukoglu, Peterborough, UK

"I now shop on the local market for cheaper and often fresher produce. I used to shop at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons for most items, now I use Netto, Aldi and sometimes Lidl."
John Wyer, Bilston, West Midlands

"Up until now, I always used to buy my food in M&S, with the occasional visit to Tesco. Since the beginning of the year, I have now switched my main shopping to Tesco with only the occasional visit to M&S and the main reason for this is the increased costs we are all having to endure in our utility bills (gas, electric, fuel etc)."
Geoff Garner, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex

"I fear that M&S's downturn in food is nothing to do with a downturn in the economy but their policy over the use of plastic bags. That may also account for reports that trading at Waitrose is up."
Adrian Wolf, Ampthill, UK

"I've cut back on my M&S food shopping sharply. Ever since they introduced charges for their plastic bags and failed to provide free paper bags. It annoys me considerably when I take my over-packaged, over-priced food to the till and they add an extra 20p on for bags because I've forgotten to bring one. Much cheaper and greener going to other supermarkets that focus less on expensive over-packaged ready meals."
Angela Taylor, Brighton

"I have shopped at a mixture of budget stores and higher-priced stores, eg Tesco, Waitrose and very occasionally Marks and Spencer, for some years now. I vary the stores, depending on what I want to buy, eg for basics such as bread, milk, eggs, cleaning products, cake/biscuits, yoghurts, tinned produce, pasta, wine/beer and special offers of the week, the budget stores are fine."
Sue Uttley, Sheffield

"How much have M&S sales been hit by it's plastic bag policy? Retailers should be encouraging use of plastic bags through providing incentives (like Tesco) not penalising customers who make spontaneous purchases without having bags with them. Has M&S reflected on the impact of this on its food sales?"
Clare, Berkshire

"I used to regularly shop at M&S for most of the week, especially at lunch, however I feel the price of the food is no longer competitive, and although the quality is good it doesn't justify the cost I am paying. I'm much more cost conscious about my weekly shopping and will look for offers and added value where possible, this is more important now than just convenience."
Cathy Phillips, London

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