HFSS promotions ban

Retailers affected by the upcoming high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) law are investigating loopholes to minimise the law’s impact through concessions and loose-packed goods.

The restrictions in October mean all symbol group stores and retailers with 50 or more staff will be banned from volume promotions on unhealthy lines. A ban on ranging unhealthy lines in key areas such as checkouts will also be applied to stores larger than 2,000sq ft that are part of a symbol group or a chain with more than 50 staff.

One symbol group boss told betterRetailing that preparations for their store estate to comply with the legislation were a “nightmare”, while supermarkets are already looking at legal loopholes.

Find out if HFSS affects your store

Retail expert Bryan Roberts said: “One interesting area is pick ’n’ mix, which could be exempt as it’s not-prepacked. Two supermarket stores I’ve been to haven’t moved pick ’n’ mix from the gondola end. There’s also speculation confectionery brands and retailers will collaborate to have pick ’n’ mix in these areas.

“In-store bakery is also potentially exempt because it’s not pre-packed.”

Roberts added dedicated concessions within stores may not count towards the floorspace within HFSS requirements.

This means a 2,100sq ft store with a 200sq ft “beer cave”, for example, could bypass the law.

What is HFSS?

Julian Miller, head of category planning at Symphony RetailAI, added: “HFSS will ban volume-based promotions, but it doesn’t apply to price promotions. Retailers will still be able to apply 20% off, for example, on HFSS-affected lines.”

Some independent retailers have begun altering store layouts ahead of the anti-obesity legislation. “My store is 2,000sq ft, so it won’t take much adjustment for me to fall under the threshold,” said one owner.

The Scottish government is expected to bring in restrictions that will similarly limit the promotion and placement of unhealthy items.

Last month, Marcel Gommers replaced impacted lines at the till with newspapers and magazines at his 1,600sq ft Premier in the Scottish Highlands.

EXCLUSIVE: £585m in c-store sales ‘at risk’ due to HFSS promotions ban

He told betterRetailing: “We’ve got three aisles and most people queue in the middle aisle to get to the till. We moved all the confectionery to that middle aisle, which is about 4m.

“Confectionery sales actually went up by an average of 50% because it’s in a more prominent location. Newspaper sales have stayed steady. If you think hard about the layout of your shop and make the most of the customer’s visit, it’s still easy to comply with new legislation and it’s not a problem at all.

“Newspapers and magazines were already at the till, but we moved them into a more prominent position in the area.”

Read more HFSS news and advice for retailers