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

(Continued)

— I received several other emails from stores echoing this sentiment. Shoppers who buy more are keeping their stores in business. They’re choosing to spend their dollars at one store over another. In areas where several supermarkets compete, every sale counts. Supermarkets operate on a very thin profit margin, so it’s understandable that a store wouldn’t want to lose a guaranteed sale from a shopper purchasing large quantities of an item.

Another common theme in emails from retailers is their willingness to special-order items in large quantities:

“If you know you want to buy 20, 30 or 100 bottles of salad dressing, I’m more than happy to sell them to you, but I encourage shoppers to come to the service counter and place an order for them if they want that many at once. When your order comes in, you can get exactly what you want, and then the shelf isn’t completely wiped out if it’s a popular sale item.”

Of course, it’s never possible to discuss a semi-controversial topic without hearing some unusual stories, too. Here’s an email from a store that favors full shelves over sold-out products:

“I work at a supermarket and part of my job is to keep the shelves ‘faced.’ This is when we line products along the front side of the shelf so they are even and look good. But when the extreme couponers come and purchase a lot of these items, there can be a hole in the shelf that doesn’t look nice. My manager got in trouble when corporate visited and we had some empty spaces because we were sold out of things. He told us that we can’t let these couponers buy too many products at once anymore because empty shelves equal demerit points for the appearance of our store.”

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