Where’s the sugar?


Sir, – Conor Pope’s excellent article “Ways supermarkets trick you into spending more money” (Pricewatch, November 2nd) reminds me of my time in the grocery trade many years ago as a sales representative for a food company. It was the era before stores used computers to allocate shelf space and the reps had to fight tooth and nail for space for their company’s products. Prime shelf locations were “first in traffic flow” and products positioned at eye-level fared best. A small supermarket group, Darrers Stores, operated four stores in the southeast in Waterford, Carlow, Dungarvan and Tramore, and they regularly shifted the position in-store of Siúcra, Ireland’s brand leader for bags of granulated sugar. This was to encourage shoppers to visit each aisle of the store and shop the shelves. As I merchandised my company’s products, I lost count of the number of times I was asked the question, “Where’s the sugar?”

All the multiples now use a computer software programme for product placement. This development took the fun out of the cut and thrust of business and the salesman’s ability to communicate, persuade, and sell. – Yours, etc,