Aldi has become the latest supermarket to ban the display of sweets around checkouts. After a successful trial earlier this year, they have announced that they will replace the sweets with healthy snacks at all tills from January. It now leaves just two supermarkets stocking sweets at the till.
Hanging sweets by the checkout used to be standard practice, and was designed to capitalise on pester power. The idea was that parents would be so exhausted by the shopping trip that their defences would be down, and children would be able to pester them into a purchase.
Over the years, supermarkets have gradually phased the practice out - replacing sweets with bags for life and leaflets for insurance. Some 20 years ago the supermarkets were already boasting that the majority of tills did not feature confectionery. However, after going quiet for years, the supermarkets are now responding to pressure to take sweets away at the few remaining tills.
Giles Hurley, Joint Managing Director of Corporate Buying at Aldi, said: "The healthier tills trial enabled us to determine what our customers want at the checkout. It quickly showed that healthier foods prove more popular with our shoppers than the traditional checkout offer of confectionery and sweets."
This comes hot on the heels of the announcement in May that Tesco was banning sugary treats from the tills at its Express and Metro stores - 20 years after they were first removed from the tills in standard stores.
In January Lidl banned sweets from around the tills and also from the so-called 'guilt aisle'. At the time it revealed the results of a survey which found that 52% of parents find it hard to get their children to eat healthily when there are snacks everywhere – particularly at supermarket checkouts.
It leaves a few notable exceptions, which are now drawing criticism. Sainsbury's banned sweets from around the tills at standard stores years ago, but retains them at the convenience stores. M&S, meanwhile, continues to sell sweets at the checkout.
And even when the tills are a sweet-free zone, it doesn't mean shoppers can afford to lower their guard at the supermarket. The stores can still use every trick at their disposal to persuade us to buy unhealthy food. Here are five of the most subtle:
1. Stocking sweets or desserts opposite the cereal aisle, on the grounds that parents will stop for cereal, giving their children an opportunity to pester for sweets.
2. Offering BOGOF on fizzy drinks and sweets, in the hope that instead of buying it and consuming it over a longer period, we change out habits and consume more.
3. Putting fruit and vegetables at the front of the shop. Psychologically when we see them in the trolley we feel less guilty about buying unhealthy food.
4. Pumping the smell of fresh baked goods around the store - making those muffins and doughnuts even more tempting
5. Stocking 'Christmas' confectionery in November so we think we're planning ahead - and end up eating it well before the festive period.
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