For some people, legislation can feel like interference. The introduction of the deposit return scheme in Scotland and the first wave of HFSS rules have largely been met with a mix of derision, irritation and indifference. But these rules can bring advantages to retailers if they use them properly.
If Scottish retailers can successfully set up areas where customers can return plastic bottles, it could increase footfall in the same way as a parcel delivery service, which, in turn, presents the chance to grow sales.
Legislation can also level the playing field for independent retailers. Linda Williams, from Broadway Convenience Store in Oxgangs, Edinburgh, doesn’t offer linked promotion deals with alcohol because the Scottish rules don’t allow her to, but then neither can other stores.
Anish Panchmatia, from One Stop Wylde Green in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, has been calling for the introduction of minimum unit pricing in England for a long time after he saw the investment that Welsh stores were able to make in their alcohol offer when they were introduced there.
Only a portion of the proposed HFSS legislation has so far been enforced, with the rest expected to follow later this year, but many retailers have found that their stores are not actually impacted.
However, Panchmatia believes the lack of interest, awareness and understanding of HFSS means that the interpretation of it will come down to individual local authorities, so retailers need to make sure they are confident that their store is following the rules.
“It’s going to be subjective, but as long as you can justify your compliance, they should have to accept that,” he says.