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Supermarkets told: Chuck snacks off the checkout!

22nd October, 2003

Major supermarkets are being told by parents not to display sweets, crisps and soft drinks at the checkouts. The practice deliberately targets children with junk food, they say.

A Parents Jury [1] survey published in today’s Food Magazine criticises ASDA, Safeway and Marks & Spencer for checkout displays that put confectionery, crisps and soft drinks within toddlers’ reach.

Tesco and Lidl were praised for giving customers a choice by having some checkouts free from snacks. Waitrose scored best with a policy of keeping all checkouts completely snack-free.

‘Seventy per cent of confectionery is bought on impulse,’ said nutritionist Annie Seeley, Parents Jury Coordinator. ‘Retailers know that putting snacks and soft drinks at the checkout where people queue increases sales substantially. But parents say this manipulative marketing technique leads to family conflict when children pester for the products and parents have to say no.’

Checkout displays encourage sales. Nestlé estimated that ‘an extra 15 million chocolate bars could be sold across the year’ by ‘putting chocolate within temptation’s reach’.[2] Mars states that ‘hot spot’ display areas are worth ‘£210m extra confectionery sales.’[2]

Many members of the 1,500-strong Parents Jury say they have battles at the checkout:

‘Chocolate is always next to the till, which only upsets kids when we have to say no’ - mother of two, from Cumbria

‘Sweets at supermarket checkouts often lead to rows, disappointed children and guilty mums’ - mother of two, from Cambridge

‘It’s hard work saying no at the end of a shopping trip’ - mother of two, from Surrey

Today, the Parents Jury launches the Chuck Snacks Off the Checkout! campaign, which urges retailers to remove junk food from the checkout.

Further information

Contact 020 7837 2250

[1] The Parents Jury was launched in 2002 by the Food Commission, as an opportunity for parents to express their views about children’s food and food marketing. It has over 1,500 members. Contact: Annie Seeley 020 7837 2250 or email:

[2] Packets of good ideas, in The Grocer Guide to Confectionery, March 2003.


The following pages may also be of interest

  • Campaigns:Parents Jury
    The Parents Jury was an independent jury of over 1,300 parents who came together to improve the quality of children's foods and drinks in the UK. The Jury was co-ordinated by The Food Commission.
  • Articles:Supermarkets told to Chuck snacks off the checkout!
    A new Food Commission campaign will call for supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies to stop displaying snacks at the checkouts, and to put such products out of temptation's reach.