Blog: Vertical challenges

Catherine Sleep | 7 March 2006

Retail space is a precious commodity and must be used prudently. This means many grocers stack shelves rather too high for their more petite customers. They then fail to provide step stools on health and safety grounds – as if there were anything healthy or safe about customers prancing around, arms flailing, trying to knock top-shelf products to within their reach.

In attempting to maximise the product range available in any aisle, grocers have effectively made some products unavailable to all but the tallest shoppers. This is self-defeating, particularly in a world were consumers are undeniably getting wider, but not taller. Sometimes one is fortunate and spies a tall and kindly-looking person who obligingly reaches top-shelf items down for one, but often the only fellow shoppers in sight are clearly busy, unapproachable or uselessly short.

People, we need a solution. Product presentation and availability are important, but so is accessibility. The little people matter too, you know.

Readers of Caroline Mayer’s consumer blog on are seething


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