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Woolworths: plastic bag ban was ‘painful’ on sales

Article image for Woolworths: plastic bag ban was ‘painful’ on sales

The plastic bag ban has been catapulted back into public consciousness once again, with one of the two supermarket duopolies reporting a “painful” sales slowdown amid the ban’s onset.

Though Woolworths’ touted a 12 percent jump in full year profit yesterday, a sales slump coincided with the phase out of the so-called “single-use” plastic bags.  It’s also thought Coles’s rather rapid transformation from environmental warrior to plastic pragmatist also had an impact, with the popular, plastic “Little Shop” promotion drawing people away from Woolworths.

 Retail Analyst Barry Urquhart says the push back  against the clampdown has a lot to do with the loss of convenience.

“The single most important thing that satisfies a customer and determines where and what they buy is convenience,” explains Barry Urquhart. 

“Consumers find that when there are no free plastic bags, it’s decidedly inconvenient. When there is a 15 cent bag levy, the amount of impulse purchases is going to be a lot less. That will impact on the gross sale, the profitability and the market appeal of any of those supermarkets that are providing free plastic bags.”

It’s thought resentment against the perceived virtue-signalling and green moral posturing tangential to the ban has also turned shoppers the wrong way.

“In QLD and WA, by statute legislation they had to withdraw the plastic bags. But these were arbitrary decisions made by Coles and Woolies in NSW and VIC. There is no legislation that dictates thou shalt not hand out plastic bags. Therefore the finger of blame was pointed by the consumers, and it was emotional, subjective and personal.”

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