About 15 years ago I helped to host a group of Russian entrepreneurs during one stop on their tour of the United States, a tour sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. As we hosts accompanied our visitors, we naturally fell into conversation with them. One of them noted a contrast with Russian life that stuck with me because it was offered in terms that were so unexpectedly strange. He said that compared to Russian grocery stores, "your grocery stores are like museums."
Just as fish don't notice they are swimming in water, we Americans are prone to think of our spacious (by world standards) grocery stores with their carefully arranged and brimming shelves; colorful produce sections; fulsome meat counters; and well-stocked frozen dessert cases—all festooned with artfully crafted point-of-purchase displays—as merely utilitarian platforms for obtaining our daily provisions.
Fast forward to today and we find that some grocery stores are unexpectedly moving even closer to the museum model, but not in the good way my Russian acquaintance had in mind. We are, of course, not surprised to see pretty pictures in museums rather than the objects those images depict. Now, in some of grocery stores in Great Britain, pretty pictures are being used to cover over gaps in the produce and dry goods sections.