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Target Retail Stores and South Australia going bagless

May 12th, 2009

Category: Retail Business News

Plastic Bag Ban and your Retail Business

Plastic Bag Ban and your Retail Business

In one of the more interesting retail stories recently, the Government of Southern Australia and the large discount chain Target will not give customers free bags to carry purchases home in. This is recent trend where more consideration is given to the ecological impact of plastic bags as people try to limit the use of one-use disposable bags. But it is causing an impact on retail businesses and retail staff and that is what we wish to discuss in this article.

Southern Australia was scheduled to ban free plastic bags for retail customers. The ban will forbid free plastic bags to customers and started on Monday May 4th. It is expected to cause some adjustment, confusion, and possibly even anger directed at retail staff. Union representatives for retail staff are asking for consideration of staff members when this happens. “Our strong message to customers is, don’t bag innocent shop assistants because you can’t get a free plastic bag from Monday, May 4,” says Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary Peter Malinauskas.

He adds: “It’s a government decision. Shop assistants are merely obeying the law and doing their job.”

Additionally the large retailer Target is posed to do an Australia wide ban in June of 2009. Jon Dee from environmental group Do Something reflects on the recent changes:

“If you take this initiative by Target and combine its results with the plastic bag reduction that is going to take place with next week’s ban on plastic bags in South Australia, then Australia will be using half a billion less plastic bags every single year,”

He added: “And it’s because of that I think we’ve finally reached that tipping point where a national ban on plastic bags is now inevitable.”

So whether you approve of this measure or don’t, it appears that this may be a change in retail. In Southern Australia it will have started on Monday May 4th and it will soon be happening in Target stores nationwide. And if your company decides to take this approach voluntarily or is forced by government regulation it will have an impact at the sales counter in staff and customer confusion, and possibly even anger at the staff.

How to deal with this change and plan for possible problems at the retail level should be considered by retail management. More management interaction when the changes take place is definitely a consideration. In SA the union had representatives in stores trying to explain the changes and diffuse anger aimed at sales staff. Store management, signage, and staff should be trying to explain the situation as clearly and honestly as possible. If it is a store or management decision there may be quite different ecological concerns by lower management, sales staff, and some of the customers. These differences may not have been visible until the voluntary or governmental ban on free plastic bags. A discussion about ecology has traditionally been kept away from the cash register of most businesses, and for good reason. Anything that confuses and angers customers at the key purchase point in a shopping experience should be avoided or minimised. The change should be considered and planned for if and when it happens to your retail business.

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