Holland & Barrett going bag and brainless

I work 4 blocks from Holland & Barrett’s Victoria branch and yesterday, like every other week, I went to the store to stock up. 2 large bags of cashews, 2 large bags of dried banana, 2 large bags of brazil nuts, 3 protein bars and 2 500gr Manuka honey jars. Enough to fill a few bags. Which I did not carry.

Following what I consider their new ill-advised policy (more below), the sales associate asked me whether I wanted a carrier bag. I looked at him and told him that of course, then he replied that I “should by a 49p bag” otherwise I couldn’t carry my shopping. What? I told him that if I had to pay for the bag, I would leave the shopping, and so I did.

Having lived in Southern Africa for a while, I am no stranger to bagless shopping, but there are some things that they have missed with their new year’s resolution of stopping giving free bags to customers.

  • In Africa, a blank plastic bag costs you a few pennies. These were the ones logo-free plastic bags they gave before 2010 for free at H&B and now they moved to 4/5p paper bags WITH their logo. Do they really think we HAVE to pay for the dubious right to advertise their brand? That is ludicrous. That’s adding insult to injury or squeezing the customer in the wrong direction.
  • Their Victoria station branch is in a station (duh!), people come and go, that branch is NOT a destination store. It is more of a convenience store and they just turned it into an inconvenience store. I used to do my monthly shopping there because it was convenient and could use just a few minutes from my breaks. Now I have to plan ahead and bring career bags from home, to work, and to the shop? Think twice.
  • My purchase was worth close to £50 and their sales associate solution was asking me to purchase a 49p bag that I did NOT need and would bin straight away. 49p out of £50 is 1%. Are they insane? What do you think the effect on sales would be if Sainsbury’s charged a 1% bag fee per purchase? Imagine a £10 bagging fee after spending £1,000 in Harrods?

I wish them luck in the future, but I can only see a dark fate in the name of green mindless strategies.

Mr-Greener-than-Thou at Holland & Barrett, just to let you know that your “green” decision to get rid of plastic bags has made you lose a customer. Me. Or perhaps we are more? There are better ways than kicking your own nuts.