Thursday, October 01, 2009

Loblaws removing candy and magazines from checkout lanes?

Long time readers might remember last March when I wrote a letter to Loblaws requesting that they create, "child-friendly" checkout lanes free of magazines talking about 10 new ways to orgasm and free of row upon row of please-can-I-have-some candy. You might also remember that roughly a week after sending my letter I received a very congenial letter in response written by Ms. Inge van den Berg, Loblaws Vice President, Investor Relations where she reported that "clutter-free" stores were being test marketed.

Well guess what?

According to Doron Levy on RetailWire's website, the initiative is picking up steam (that picture above was taken at Doron's local Loblaws where he used to enjoy buying treats at checkout for his children) and following his post a fascinating discussion ensues where retailers debate the merits of such a plan.

Against the argument is that there will be far fewer dollars spent in these stores because impulse buys will no longer occur while waiting in line. For the argument is that parents will be thrilled (I agree), it may speed up the checkout process, and it differentiates them from their competition (I agree).

One of the most repulsive, and reflective of what we're up against comments, was from a Mr. David Livingston, the Principal of DJL Research, a supermarket sales and marketing consultancy firm,

"Retailers need to put the most impulsive, eye catching products at the checkout, especially those that are desired by children. As retailers, we want these children to grow up and not think twice about being an impulse shopper. What better way to imprint this habit on their brains except by putting impulse items at the checkout?"
He sounds positively charming.

Now I certainly haven't seen child-friendly aisles yet here in Ottawa and so I contacted Ms. van den Berg who emailed me to let me know that Loblaws has yet to decide if all stores will go "clutter-free".

Personally I don't think entire stores need go "clutter-free". I'd be thrilled to know that all stores had 2-3 child-friendly checkout lanes while retaining regular cluttered aisles for those who didn't care.

If you've experienced a child-friendly checkout lane, leave a quick comment as to where you are so we can get a sense as to how broad this partial rollout is.