A little while back, a trip to Woolworths, which saw the cashier and myself lock eyes as he cautiously asked me if I required bags for a substantial amount of groceries that would’ve required 40 arms otherwise, inspired me to write a piece called The woes of Woolworths reusable bags.
Also Read: The woes of Woolworths’ reusable bags
The piece came from the collective frustration that many South Africans share – accidentally forgetting our reusable bags at home.
It revealed something of a dilemma, a matter that Good Things Guy Brent Lindique dubbed solving the ‘plastic problem’ but creating a ‘Woolworths bag problem’. This highlighted a cycle of producing more of these bags. Although they may be 85% recyclable PET plastic bags (which is very good), they’re not really being ‘reused’ if we keep on buying more of them.
On another recent episode of realising I had forgotten a reusable bag at home upon arriving at Woolworths’ gates, I decided instead of paying R7 per bag, I’d mosy on over to another grocer.
I have just purchased my 430th Woolworths black material shopping bag and I couldn’t be prouder. pic.twitter.com/y9SNc703kf
— Garth Breytenbach (@poormanscaviar) February 4, 2021
I began to ponder just how many people think in the same way, and if there were enough of us doing the same thing, was this impacting Woolworths’ sales?
The investigation hat was back on and the results are in.
As it so happens, according to chief executive Roy Bagattini, the reusable bags have not actually impacted sales negatively, as IOL confers.
This was discussed at the 2021 annual general meeting, whereby the reusable bag initiative that has been running since 2018 was discussed.
According to Bagattini, the impact has been positive, especially in terms of taking plastic out of the system.
“We now have taken 5 to 6 metric tons of plastic out of the system,” he expressed.
“It has been a process for customers to get used to and we all have extra bags in the boot of our cars,” he further went on.
Woolies has been on a positive stride this year too, going beyond the environment.
In creative pursuits to ‘solve 2021’, two new product announcements have had many locals beaming. The chuckles ice-cream and chuckles cake announcements were very well received by the public. Additionally, while fishwors may not have been everyone’s favourite pick at the braai, it certainly had Woolworths circulating headlines.
Now what has impacted the food giant negatively, according to Bagattini, was the lockdown in Australia.
“As a group we had a fairly painful start to our financial year in that 70 percent of our stores in Australia were closed for the bulk of the period and that was reflected in the numbers,” he said.
Locally, however, South Africans carried Woolies through the trenches of the pandemic, with the food business growing at over three percent.