It only took WSJ three weeks to catch up with us on a story we reported about supermarkets lining empty shelves with meaningless items to appear as full as possible.
WSJ reports UK shoppers have noticed supermarkets are using signs, moving products, and employed a whole suite of other tactics to create the illusion there are no physical gaps on shelves.
One example has been stacking crates of products, including sodas, beer, and other drinks, in front of empty shelves usually lined with prepackaged meals. Other boxes filled with chocolate candy have been stacked high to mask the reality fresh vegetables are out of stock.
Co-operative Group Limited, a British food retailer, stocked refrigerated displays with condiments to ensure customers wouldn’t see empty racks.
“We’ve been impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries,” a spokesperson for Co-op said. “Our teams are always trying to make sure our stores look as attractive as possible and sometimes managers come up with creative ways of making sure shelves are full.”
A combination of Brexit, supply chain woes, and the energy crisis in Europe has sparked product shortages as demand remains robust. In a recent poll, 17% of UK consumers said they couldn’t purchase essential food items, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.
For grocers, fronting merchandise which means they’re bringing everything to the front to make the store look as packed as possible, is necessary to prevent a run. The psychological effect of empty shelves on the consumer creates panic buying – something grocers want to avoid. Other supermarkets have been lining shelves with cardboard “dummies,” including empty prepackaged sandwich boxes.