This month, our mystery toy retailer wonders who benefits from the supermarket’s sales promotions and what the Internet means for the future of impulse buying

COUNTER INSURGENT: Supermarket Sales

There was a time not long ago that I knew almost any price of the toys we sell.

Staff who couldn’t be bothered to run to the price book could stop me in the shop knowing I could recite the price off the top of my head. But now it’s impossible and not just because of my advancing years.

There is no way that anyone could remember what price is what. Prices are all over the place.

Many of the ‘big boys’ are going out at what we would have called full retail just so they can offer discounts for a couple of weeks.

Argos, it seems has started its three for two deals and 25 per cent offs earlier this year, the kids aren’t even back to school and already the consumer is as confused as they can be.

Every year we moan about Christmas getting later and yet what incentive has the consumer got to buy early when they don’t know what a good deal looks like?

Promotions in supermarkets are designed to be confusing and even after recent scathing reports, culture doesn’t seem to have stopped consumers from buying into them.

Maybe I’m the idiot, but if something is on a promotion where I have to buy three in order to get it at the price I’m prepared to pay, I now don’t even bother. I do without.

We all know that supermarket online shopping is becoming more and more popular, so much so that some of the big supermarkets are now no longer looking to build normal ‘public’ stores, but units designed for either home delivery or the growing click and collect culture.

And despite their money being invested in this, it must scare the hell out of the supermarkets, becoming one of the reasons why there are so many supermarket convenience stores popping up.

I know from my experience that when you food-shop online you buy what you need. You aren’t faced with promotions and you don’t go wondering through aisles of things you don’t need, but want.

Internet impulse sales are rare. It is normally a considered purchase, very often with two or three steps to eventually order the item, and checkout abandonment is a bigger proportion than we care to admit.

I don’t care how good a website is – how many pop ups come up while shopping or even how many emails come through (let’s be honest, more than one newsletter every couple of days now gets marked as spam and never seen again) nothing online can replace someone wandering the aisles of a supermarket, with screaming kids wanting the latest e-numbered laced cereal, or Haribo packet of sweets.

In recent years suppliers have fallen over backwards to get into the toy aisle of the supermarkets, but with the growth in this online grocery shopping, there is no pester power, there are no promotions that consumers will see and no impulse purchase.

Maybe now is the time for them to look long and hard at what support they offer supermarkets.Because as the internet takes more and more from the High Street, it’s going to be a shadow of its former self when the supermarkets start to convert some of their stores to ‘internet hubs’.

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