Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Tracy West: retail commentator

The 'bah humbug' brigade, typically active at Christmas time, are now out for Easter. Pre-Easter stories in the mainstream media are usually about how over-priced Easter eggs are when you compare their chocolate content to bars that are available all-year-round. In the past there has also been chuntering about packaging but many manufacturers have done away with the plastic part of their packaging. Today though, the anti-Easter (or rather Easter egg) stories emanate from research commissioned by the RSPH. If, like me, you'd never heard of them, they are the Royal Society for Public Health an independent, multi-disciplinary charity dedicated to the improvement of the public's health and wellbeing.

Their research found that (shock, horror!), when there was still three weeks to go until Easter, half (50%) of the UK public had bought and consumed at least one Easter-related chocolate, treat or cake. And almost a quarter (23%) had already bought and consumed at least one full-sized Easter egg this year.

Now there's no disputing there is a problem with obesity in the UK, but nobody forces people to buy or eat chocolate and other treats. In addition, there is (currently) no labelling on Easter eggs that says you can't eat them until Easter.

The RSPH wants retailers to do more to encourage healthy choices and to stop pushing unhealthy products. It is also calling for retailers to end 'pester power' strategies by limiting how early they push seasonal products which are high in fat, salt and sugar, and to remove them from checkouts.

It seems to me they know little about retailing and the fact that a massive part of it is about tempting people to make impulse purchases.

The RSPH research found that 77% of people think supermarkets start selling Easter eggs and other Easter treats too early. A spokesperson said their research suggests that the public find this 'mildly irritating'.

To be honest, I find their research more than mildly irritating. Easter is all about celebrating. It wouldn't be the same without hot cross buns and chocolate eggs the more the merrier!

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