MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Columns

October 23, 2011

Retailers address ‘shelf sweepers’

Some are happy to sell out a product, even if other shoppers go without, but others want full shelves

— Last week, I shared feedback from readers who had strong opinions on shoppers who buy in bulk. “Shelf sweepers” came in for a lot of criticism from fellow shoppers who feel that it’s only fair to leave product on the shelf so other bargain hunters have a chance to save. But what do stores think of these high-volume customers? Here’s an email from a retailer who offers some great insights:

“Thank you so much for your article about coupon etiquette. I am a customer-service manager at a local grocery store and I agree with your advice to buy as much of a sale item as you feel you will use. If items are on clearance, by all means, buy us out!

“The tricky part is when stores put limits on purchases of sale items. Let’s say we have a limit on two cases of canned vegetables and a customer comes to the register with four. If I enforce our limit, the two extra cases go back onto the shelf, and I’m left hoping that somebody else will come along and purchase them. There’s no guarantee they will sell. However, if I don’t enforce the limit, I sell those two cases.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. In the grocery business, as in all businesses, the bottom line is the bottom line. In terms of coupons, it’s important to remember that every customer has the right to purchase as many items as his or her budget will allow. Other shoppers may consider it rude when a couponer clears a shelf in order to stock up on an item, but at the end of the day, buying in large quantities will never bother store management. Thank you again for your article. It was very thought-provoking.”

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