In April this year, we introduced a rebate of 20 cents to customers who do not require a shopping bag with their purchase in our Singapore stores. This is to encourage our customers to bring their own bag and reduce the use of shopping bags.
What we realised these past few months is that this Bring-Your-Own-Bag (BYOB) rebate made little difference in driving behavioural change. Customers who receive the BYOB rebate are mainly customers who habitually decline a shopping bag anyway. To them, the rebate is simply a pleasant surprise.
We thought we can do more to contribute to an environmentally sustainable way of life. Many studies have shown that the elimination of single-use plastic bags combined with a modest fee on paper bag is an effective way to reduce waste from single-use checkout bags. For the past nine years, we have not used any plastic bag as our shopping bag. So what remains to be done is to start charging a fee on paper bag.
Beginning September 1, 2019, we will charge 20 cents for each paper bag at all Yankee Candle and Pure stores.
We currently have four sizes of paper bags: X-Small, Small, Large, X-Large. Irrespective of size, a 20 cents Paper Bag Fee will be charged for each bag. We will continue to extend the Bring-Your-Own-Bag rebate of 20 cents to customers who do not require a paper bag. To put it simply: if they do not need a paper bag, they get 20 cents off their bill; if they need paper bag(s), they will be charged 20 cents per paper bag.
The 20 cents BYOB rebate and the 20 cents Paper Bag fee are inclusive of 7% Goods & Services Tax.
A new habit for us is to ask the perhaps uncomfortable question of “Mdm, do you need a paper bag?” at the checkout counter. If the customer says “Yes, duh!”, we’ll have to politely and confidently (not sheepishly as if we’re something wrong) inform the customer that each paper bag costs 20 cents and that we’ll try to pack the goods in as few paper bags as possible.
In the initial phase, there may be cases of customers abandoning their purchase, saying they will come back again when they remember to bring their own bag. It’s okay. Let it go, let it go.
The cost of all our paper bags (XS, S, L, XL) – whether it be the non-FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper bags that we’re phasing out or the FSC-certified paper bags that we just introduced – is more than 20 cents. Hence it’s important to note that we aren’t selling our paper bags for 20 cents. Our frontline colleagues will continue to exercise judgement on how many paper bags a customer actually needs. I believe we’ll learn and get better over time.
Also, we’ll continue to refuse giving paper bags to people who walk in and request for paper bags without a receipt even if they are willing to pay 20 cents. This happens often during festive seasons when our paper bag is tied with a ribbon, serving as a gift bag. We have no desire to subsidise the business of unauthorised resellers and parallel importers.
When we sell a candle accessory made of glass, we currently protect the item with plastic bubble wrap (another battle we will be fighting soon). We will continue this practice without charging the customer.
Let’s hope that this practice will be welcomed by our customers. We’ll deal with any emerging issues as they arise. Happy selling!