By FARRAH JOHNSON
SUPER VALUE president Rupert Roberts yesterday defended the food store chain’s new packing policy, stating the rule was introduced to safeguard against theft which has increased since the government’s ban on single-use plastics.
A new Super Value notice informing customers that “groceries must be packed in bags before leaving the store” sparked outrage on social media yesterday. When contacted, Mr Roberts said the purpose of the new policy is to deter shoplifting.
“Groceries are not to go out loose in a shopping cart,” he told The Tribune.
“It’s because customers are shopping the way they always shop. They put the groceries in the shopping cart and they’re just walking outdoors with the carts as though the cashiers are not sitting there.
“It’s a new day (and) new system (so) thieves are taking advantage of it. They go in and shop and they come and try walk around the cash registers, trying to get behind the cash registers and trying to get out of the door.
“When the security grabs them and says ‘Where is your (receipt) tape?’ they got no tape. They just throw the cart of groceries at him and leave.”
Mr Roberts said incidents like this, which have occurred “frequently” recently, have contributed to the food store chain’s stock shortages increasing from one to six percent since the plastic ban took effect on January 1.
He said he believes thieves think “it’s their time now” and intentionally take advantage of the new system because of all the changes surrounding it.
“We’re having a lot of prosecutions,” he said. “It started increasing after the hurricane (last September) and then with the plastic ban it just went wild.
“...The police are coming in and taking our cashiers out in handcuffs for pushing for their friends and relatives. One in Cable Beach struck up the groceries and it came to one hundred and something and 25 cents and he gave the cashier 25 cents and he walked out with the groceries.
“The security had to chase him and nail him down in the parking lot and call the police and charge him with stealing.”
Mr Roberts insisted the new policy is not to force customers to pay for bags, but to prevent potential law breakers from trying to cheat the system.
Describing how the new policy will be enforced, he added: “Groceries can be packed in bags, buckets, laundry baskets, pillow cases (or) reusable bags. It’s just that we’re trying to stop them from going out loose.
“We’re trying to stop them from walking by the cash registers and walking around the cash registers. You see there’s no way of telling what’s paid for and what’s not paid for unless they’re in bags.”
When asked why Super Value doesn’t offer customers cardboard boxes to pack their purchased items in, Mr Roberts said while he does not have the exact figures, he knows for a fact that the stores would not be able to meet the demand.
“We have thousands of cardboard boxes, but (to accommodate customers) it would (have to) be in the millions and we don’t have them. We only have thousands of cardboard boxes to offer the customers.”
Still, Mr Roberts said the company has not received any more resistance from customers because of the plastic ban.
“They have accepted that we have a ban and they’re not going to pay 25 cents (for a plastic bag),” he said.
“…We’re only selling in 13 stores $14,000 of plastic bags a week at 25 cents, but if they were really buying plastic bags, it would be something probably close to $500,000 a month.”
Insisting the system would only work if people cooperated and brought their reusable bags with them when shopping, he added: “That’s the way we’re going to eventually have to encourage and force consumers to do it.
“It has to be done right or it’s going to be costly. We don’t want this increasing the cost of living four or five percent by theft increasing that much.
“We have to work with security (and) work with police in eliminating this theft and this attempted theft (because) it has to be stamped out.”