Coles joins Woolworths in giving away free bags

Coles has joined Woolworths in providing customers with free reusable bags until Sunday (July 8).

The two supermarket giants have banned single-use plastic bags. However, to assist shoppers with the transition, both are giving away their 15c bags at no charge for a limited time.

Coles stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia will offer the “Coles Better Bag”, made from 80 per cent recycled material.

Despite its forward planning, Coles has been inundated with complaints from customers, while some shoppers have arrived in store without enough of their own bags.

Coles says extra staff will be on hand over the coming days to assist customers, with additional checkouts open between 9am and 9pm in NSW and Victoria, and from 9am to 7pm in Queensland and Western Australia.

“To help our customers during this transition period, we’re pleased to help out by offering our customers complimentary reusable plastic bags in those states where single-use plastic bags have been removed for the first time,” said Coles Chief Operating Officer Greg Davis.

“For some, it can be difficult to get into the routine of bringing your own bags to the supermarket or know exactly how many you may need for your entire shop,” Mr Davis added.

“We want to do everything we can to help our customers.”

Aussies disagree with the ban

According to a recent Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,200 adults, 71% agree with the decision to ban single-use plastic bags, while 21% disagree and 8% are undecided.

It was also revealed that 45% of respondents agree that taking their own bags to the supermarket going forward will be a hassle, while 58% said they have been saving bags to use in future.

In addition, it was found that almost half of shoppers (46%) have already been in the habit of taking their own reusable bags to the supermarket. There is some finger-pointing at the supermarkets for how the plastic bags have been used in the past, with more than half (51%) agreeing that checkout staff have been giving out too many (i.e. not packing efficiently).

Even with reusable bags, shoppers are taking to social media complaining that staff need to be “retrained” in packing after claims that checkout workers were over packing reusable bags.

Coles has responded to social posts, saying that it was sorry to hear of the frustrations and thanking consumer for their feedback.

“We’re sorry to hear of your frustration, as we pride ourselves on the high levels of customer service that we provide,” a spokesperson for the supermarket chain posted. “We’ll ensure that this [is] passed on to the Store and Regional Managers and we hope that you notice an improvement moving forward.”

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