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A message to supermarkets: handing out children’s toys to everyone at the till is not very smart

By Nina Steele 

Childless woman grocery shoppingFor a good few years now, some supermarkets in the UK have been handing out children related gifts to anyone at the till, regardless of whether or not they have a child or children in tow. We changed supermarket about 2 years ago, after going to the same one for over 12 years. Most of the staff at our previous supermarket knew my husband and I. In all the years we went there, it was either the two of us together or just one of us. Yet, on many occasions, whenever we got to the till, staff members would offer us children related gifts and as you would expect, we always kindly said no. I even remember on a few occasions telling some of them that we had no children. Now that we have changed supermarket, the same thing is happening again.

In the 2 or so years I have been going to our new supermarket, I have lost count of the times I have been offered children’s toys. And every time I give the same answer: no thanks. Some of the staff leave it at that, while others persist, reminding me that I can always give it to a child I know. And every time, I keep coming up with the same answer: no thanks.

The other day, the cashier, who has always been very polite and professional, wouldn’t take no for an answer and pretty much forced two toys into my hand. On my way out, I kept looking around to see if I could spot a parent with a young child and hand it to them. As it turned out, the people making their way into the store where all adults. And so I was forced to take the toys home.

After unpacking, I decided to see what was inside. It was two sticky plastic toys. Instead of throwing them away, I decided to stick them on the fridge for now. I suspect that they will make their way into the recycling eventually. Later on I decided to do a quick search on how popular they are. And it didn’t take me long to find out. I learnt that they are sought after toys. One 2015 newspaper article claimed that “they have become the latest playground craze — selling online for up to £3”. Incidentally, the cashier did mention their retail value on ebay. No wonder he looked so pleased with himself. He thought he was doing me a favour, albeit one that I never asked for.

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