Sainsbury's checkout-free

Digitise physical stores

Sir, Harry Walker is correct when he says that retailers should be staking their claim to shoppers’ smartphones. Innovation in-store is simply not happening at the speed it deserves, not when you consider the advances in online retail.

The potential to offer a more seamless experience is achievable. Infrastructure and legacy systems can’t continue to be used as excuses for failure to update the in-store environment.

Physical retailers have yet to deploy digital technologies at scale that meet shopper needs. To do so, the store has to be digitised. Only then will we see more agile and user friendly environments for shoppers.

Paul Milner, marketing director, Displaydata

Banana prices on the up

Sir, The recent increase in loose banana prices in Tesco Metro and Express stores is a timely reminder of the link between prices and income for plantation workers.

Loose bananas have been at unsustainably low retail prices for years, so upward movement is potentially good news. Low prices have amplified negative social and environmental impacts in most banana producing countries, including the denial of basic human rights, gender discrimination, failure to earn living wages and long working hours.

Tesco did, however, in 2014 become the first retailer to commit to paying a living wage to banana workers at its sourcing sites. Although this goal has proved challenging, progress is being made.

Banana Link looks forward to strong engagement by Tesco and other retailers to establish a better understanding of the role of prices in determining how much value exists to be distributed at the producer country level, including to workers as wages. Low and downward pressure on prices will always undermine the ability of workers to earn a living wage.

Alistair Smith, international coordinator, Banana Link

Plastic bag VAT usage

Sir, The Defra report on plastic bag charges in England for the year to 6 April 2018 reveals 1.75 billion single-use bags were sold by the 249 retailers registered.

The government reports £58.5m was raised for good causes but fails to mention that out of the total £87m raised, over £14.5m was taken by HMRC in VAT. We’re not aware that any of the VAT has been used to support recycling.

This VAT would make a big difference to our recycling infrastructure. Packaging businesses are united in demanding that every penny raised is used to support collection, sortation and recycling and help hard-pressed local authorities.

Martin Kersh, executive director, Foodservice Packaging Association