There exist striking resemblances between the supermarket and the church. Most obvious is in design: the aisle substitutes for the pew; the checkouts substitute for the altar. You might even be tempted to utter a supplication as your eyes survey the shopping receipt. But the similarities extend beyond design. Consider the parallels between piped music in supermarkets and hymnal music in religious buildings. Both are meant to calm, inform, and direct congregations towards giving – and in return you shall receive! Whether that be spiritual or nutritional is dependent on your particular 'brand' of faith.
Listen to the conversations of regular/returning customers: they are virtually confessional. No need for the booth of reconciliation when you can spill the beans at the express queue and be out the door before a single Hail Mary is communicated. The 'church-ale' or fund raiser has been replaced by the special offer and own-brand range. The parish church can now be re-imagined as a metro or express outlet. The 24-hour big-box store is the modern cathedral, offering cures and remedies for poor eyesight, headaches, and indigestion that no longer require absolute commitment to an unseen deity. You can even get your gnashers done all-pearly-like, while waiting for your other half to get the weekly shop in.
Of course, it's not just the supermarket that seeks to refashion and agglomerate the tenets of faith under one roof. As religion disintegrates, you need only look to the internet to see the dispersion and re-concentration of the congregation into specific online social communities. The church is well aware of this and makes incredible efforts to recapture the flock by adopting online strategies and business models. Similarly, it adopts supermarket strategies to rebuild and maintain attendance.
On the flip side, the supermarket recently tried its hand at old style religious 'exclusionism' by banning Daniel Jones, founder of the International Church of Jediism, from one of its stores. In what was clearly a case of following the 'rule' book too closely, he was ejected for his unacceptable apparel. A taste of things to come? Probably not (yet), but it does raise the issues of selective entry to these assemblies of exchange and supermarkets operating as enforcement agencies.
With supermarkets expanding into all areas of trade, will we soon see the supermarket police apprehending criminals outside of the sliding doors, beyond the car-park and alongside the conventional police force? Why stop there? They could deliver the post, run the railways, empty the sewers, manage our finances, loan out money, mortgage our homes, insure our homes, insure our cars, and provide us with phones, flights, city breaks and package holidays. They might even consider reading us our last rites, although terms and conditions would most certainly apply.