Poundland HFSS checkout queuing area

Source: The Grocer

A Poundland checkout queueing area awash with HFSS snacks on 17 October

Poundland was this week not yet in compliance with new rules on products high in fat, sugar or salt, weeks after they came into force on 1 October.

The Grocer visited a Poundland store on Monday (17 October) to find non-HFSS compliant chocolates and sweets lining the checkout queueing area and next to a checkout, contrary to the rules.

It was The Grocer’s second visit to the store since the rules came into force, having previously gone on 3 October, and found similar breaches. On that occasion a Poundland spokesman said that, while some HFSS-compliant snacks had been introduced, it would be a “few weeks” before non-compliant ones were removed from checkout queueing areas in stores.

On The Grocer’s second visit to the store – in Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex – a new bay of chocolate had been added immediately adjacent to a checkout.

Poundland HFSS chocolate next to checkout

Source: The Grocer

A new bay of chocolate right next to a checkout on The Grocer’s second visit

In response to a further enquiry from The Grocer, Poundland said on 19 October it had stopped selling HFSS products in restricted locations at checkouts and queuing areas, and planned “to roll out further restrictions in a phased way from January”.

“Where the merchandising programme hasn’t been implemented, we’ll obviously put that right,” the spokesman added.

Under the rules, HFSS products should not be within two metres of a checkout or designated checkout queueing area. Examples of a designated checkout queueing area include somewhere lined by “units or shelving designed to guide customers” to the point of purchase.

On both Poundland store visits, as well as on units lining the checkout queueing area, restricted products were displayed on racks positioned such that a queue would weave around them.

Poundland HFSS

Source: The Grocer

HFSS food also this week featured prominently on the homepage of Poundland’s e-commerce site, Poundshop.com, in a banner promoting a chocolate ‘deal of the day’. A ‘shop now’ button led to a page also featuring the deal prominently at the top, where it could be added to basket.

Government guidance says homepage banners can feature images of HFSS food “if the banner is not offering the food for sale but only signposting to a taxonomy page”.

Jessica Burt, food regulatory specialist at law firm Mills & Reeve, said Poundland’s banner was arguably against “the intention of the legislation”. “The overall intent was not to tempt the consumer and be front-facing [with HFSS] when they enter the homepage,” she said.

But she said more government guidance was needed to clarify “how many clicks count”.

Poundshopcom homepage 21 November 2022

How the homepage of Poundshop.com, Poundland’s e-commerce operation, was greeting visitors this week

Enforcement of the regulations is down to trading standards or environmental health officers, depending on individual local authority arrangements.

A business found to be in breach of the rules can be served with an improvement notice, and further non-compliance can ultimately lead to an unlimited fine or, more likely, a £2,500 fixed penalty.

However, The Grocer revealed earlier this month that Trading Standards organisation CTSI had said there was insufficient funding for rigorous enforcement.

Burt said enforcement of the regulations online was equally unlikely in practice.