Supermarkets want customers to be 'trusted to make their own decision' over non-essential items

271020 Fire-break shops

Retailers in Wales want customers to be "trusted to make their own decision" about whether an item is essential.

Supermarkets have been banned from selling non-essential products during the 17 day 'fire-break' period.

There has been "confusion" about what constitutes a non-essential item with Tesco forced to apologise for wrongly suggesting sanitary products were "non-essential" and so could not be sold due to the new measures in place in Wales.

This forced the Welsh Government to meet with retailers on Monday to "review the regulations."

They are due to publish "revised guidance" on Tuesday after what they described as "positive discussions" with the sector.

WRC, CBI  and ACS have made their own recommendations to the Welsh Government about how they can "resolve the confusion over non-essential items."

They have called for customers to be trusted to decide for themselves and for "discretion to be used on an individual basis."

These recommendations would mean "non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores."

On Monday, the Welsh Government said the regulations and guidance would be reviewed to make sure they were being applied "fairly and consistently".

Vaughan Gething said ministers would ensure retailers understand what can and cannot be sold during the 17-day firebreak, but also discuss how shoppers with "exceptional circumstances" can purchase non-essential items.

Wales entered a two-week "fire-break" lockdown from Friday to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed by the resurgence of coronavirus. Credit: PA

Retailers have made the following recommendations:

  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.

  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases.

  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs.

  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer.

  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.