MSYS walk shop – the seeds are sown

Looking to cut his food waste costs, one independent retailer visits his local cash and carry every morning to ensure he buys just what he needs. His staff enjoy any end-of-day products which are on the brink of going out of date.

While cash and carry wholesalers will enjoy this endorsement, it’s not a reality for many retailers, who believe their time is most efficiently spent behind the counter or in the back office.

One independent says his customers demand free bags. He can’t charge for them although a store nearby adds 10p per bag to the bill. But most retailers we know say their use of free plastic bags is dramatically down.

Another retailer attracts trade to her store by beating the giant multiples in the race for the evening meal as a package. She counters the now ubiquitous “dinner for two for pound;10″ with a meal for four for less than a fiver – the inspiration for which she says comes from the Walk Shop campaign and its “avoid food waste” thinking.

Retailers say they will promote the campaign with poster competitions at local schools. Others will download Walk Shop POS from the campaign website, together with their own window bill informing customers of how much carbon they personally save in a year.

If anything, these responses from a highly fragmented audience provide more evidence, if it were needed, of the adage that no two independent stores are alike and that no two independent retailers think quite the same way about everything.

But they do prove that this audience has heard the message – the first step for any campaign. The task ahead is to build on the concept. National Independents’ Week and National Cuppa Day have the same provenance.

Landmark Wholesale is pressing ahead with its Walk Save campaign with good results. Other wholesalers are spreading the campaign message to their customers through literature and face-to-face sell-in in store. Suppliers are supporting MSYS Walk Shop with their own activity.

These things build their own momentum. No sooner had Hilary Benn delivered his attack on unacceptable levels of food waste and CO2 emissions, than the cost to consumers of using their cars to drive to superstores – in addition to the CO2 produced – was highlighted by a supportive member of the Rural Shops Alliance.

This was then followed by the news that this cost of car use by shoppers was in the sights of a Government committee. The MSYS campaign is perfectly poised to capitalise on these developments.

The latest Nielsen figures showing the dramatic increase in small FMCG baskets will be a spur to every local shop. Consumers are buying fewer products and making more visits to shops. Baskets of one to five items have increased by 19% year over year. That’s independents’ trade. territory.

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=== Council supports independents’ plastic free zone ===

A council supported local independent retailers in the run-up to the launch of the Walk Shop activity by organising a “Plastic Free Zone” campaign.

Daventry District nbsp;Council supplied three retailers, led by MSYS activist Sylvia Winter, of Creaton Post Office, near Northampton, with a free launch quantity of biodegradable bags for their campaign, which is supported by stores in nearby Spratton.

The council is also supporting Sylvia’s idea of a colouring competition for local schools (right) and another competition for the best design for a bio-bag. Press coverage for the activity is also being arranged by the council which is asking local pubs to promote the campaign by displaying posters.

Sylvia said: “This campaign will get us noticed for environmental reasons which is a big element in the Walk Shop campaign. We will give the bio-bags away free to start the campaign. We are looking at ways to get the cost of the bio-bags down.

“Our customers are very interested in eco issues. We have reduced our purchases of plastic bags by about 50% year over year, so our eco-drive is working,” she added.

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=== HILARY BENN’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST FOOD WASTE AND CO2 ===

The FWD My Shop is Your Shop programme has been given a boost by the radical drive to reduce food waste and CO2 emissions announced by environment secretary Hilary Benn (right) just ahead of the launch of Walk Shop.

The Government is saying superstores should stop bogof deals, which lead to consumers buying more than they need, and introduce more small packs to cater for people living alone. Benn said eliminating food waste could cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking one fifth of all cars off the country’s roads.

Food waste carted off to landfill produces methane – a huge contributor to man-made climate change.

The MSYS Walk Shop project embraces both food waste and CO2 issues by guiding independent retailers to encourage their customers to ditch the car and walk to their shop, thus reducing carbon emissions.

It also urges independents to promote the local shop as helping families to save an average of pound;420 a year by buying food for immediate day-to-day needs and so avoid binning more than a third of food purchases.

Superstores are promoting their own ways of reducing food waste and CO2 emissions but it is crucial that local stores are not left behind in what will become big issues.

Walk Shop is not about price issues – it is about helping local families to control their food spend as they become increasingly penny-wise and CO2 averse.

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