BrainTrust Query: Loblaws Quits Candy Cold Turkey
by Doron Levy, President, Captus Business Consulting
One of the lines I love about our industry is that the only constant in retail is change. Reinventing
ourselves is now more critical than ever and one chain that has done
a great job of pulling themselves from the brink of extinction is Canada’s
Loblaws. New layouts, aggressive pricing and expansion of service and
merchandise have helped the mighty Loblaws regain footing in the ultra-competitive
So what’s my
I like to get
my daughters treats when I pick them up from school on Fridays. Loblaws
is on the way so I used to stop in and head to the cash registers to
peruse the wire racks that are usually filled with chocolate, gummies,
sour whatever you can come up with and other bad-for-you goodies. On
a recent Friday, however, horror washed over me. The only thing I found
was a cash register! Really, just a register. No candy, no Bic Lighters,
no Purel Travel Size, no Duracell batteries, nothing! I couldn’t even
find a National Enquirer to mull over while I was waiting in line!
I became desperate
so I sought out help, which they do have in abundance now. I was directed
to small racks tucked in a back corner amongst Halloween pallets. Two
racks, filled with Nestle product (obviously paid for by Nestle). No
Allans or Maynards products. What was I going to do? My girls love sour
stuff. So I was forced to purchase big packs (pillow packs as we call
them in the trenches) from the regular candy aisle.
My first impression
was: parents are going to love this. They can now pay for their purchases
without having their kids pawing and screaming for candy while waiting
in line. Then logic appears. This is the worst possible move any retailer
can make. The checkout is the last possible opportunity to sell your
After the kids went to bed, I went on a field trip to Sobey’s,
Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart. Lo and behold, I found expansive, well stocked
checkout sections with an assortment of unique, high-margin and high-velocity
products. Walmart had even put impulse displays at their self service
registers. At this point, I’m starting to wonder what the motive is behind
Loblaws’ deletion of the products at the checkout. Why
pass up on that last opportunity to sell to your customer?
I admit that
the new Loblaws layout does look a lot cleaner but I’m still scratching
my head over why they would give up all that extra money at the register.
If their past layout wasn’t bringing in the bucks, I would revamp and reorganize;
not obliterate. In the meantime I will have to stop at the Shell on the
way to school to get the goodies and I can always read the National Enquirer
at my sister-in-law’s.
How do you feel about taking away the merchandise in the checkout
line? What are the pros and cons of removing this section? Which
chains most effectively execute at the checkout lane?