Coles’ move to end delivery of printed catalogues upsets older Australians

Font Size:

Supermarket giant Coles is facing a backlash over its decision to stop distributing a printed catalogue in favour of an online service called coles&co.

Coles told customers it would stop delivering catalogues via traditional letterbox drops by 9 September. Its new coles&co platform launched on Thursday.

Some have welcomed the news for its environmental benefits – Coles Group chief Steven Cain said the printed catalogues consumed more than 10,000 tonnes of paper each year and, if stopped, would save around 80,000 trees.

“Since 2000, we have delivered around 200 billion pages of weekly catalogues to letterboxes across Australia,” said Mr Cain.

“We’re committed to being Australia’s most sustainable supermarket and reducing our reliance on paper by prioritising digital channels like coles&co is a significant step towards that goal.”

However, others – including many older Australians and those on lower incomes – have criticised the decision.

The move to online services disadvantages those without internet connections, as well as “vulnerable and elderly people” who often depend on others to shop for them.

It also has immediate repercussions for those who cannot shop for themselves under current restrictions.

“Not everyone has access to the internet and just because more people shop online doesn’t mean they are not browsing the catalogue. I am not happy and neither are my elderly parents. Bad move,” said a social media poster on the Coles Facebook page.

“Terrible for older generations, especially for my 81-year-old mum who doesn’t do tech. Going to miss it myself; I love to flip through the catalogue,” posted another.

A petition has been started by those who oppose the decision.

While Coles said catalogues would still be available in stores on a weekly basis, National Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henschke says it’s “not good enough” and that older Australians are going to be upset.

“There will be people that will be very disadvantaged by this because that’s the way they’ve always done things. When you take away something people are used to, they’re going to be upset,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“This is about respect. What we should recognise is that not everyone is the same and you should respect people who choose to do things differently.

“And you should have a lot of sympathy for them because the only reason that they’re not online is because they don’t have enough money to do it.”

Around 10 per cent of shoppers use catalogues to do their shopping – a number that Mr Henschke says is far from “an insubstantial group of people in Australia”.

“We’re probably talking more than two million people who are not online savvy,” he said.

He said the onus was on the supermarket to find some middle ground with elderly shoppers and those without digital access, suggesting that a specials board indicating what would be on sale the following week could help mitigate the inconvenience caused by cancelling catalogue delivery.

“Older Australians would then be able to write down the things they’ll shop for next time they are there,” he said.

He claimed that Coles had made a mistake in assuming an online service could simply replace the catalogues.

“When you go to seniors’ groups you’ll often find that up to half the people in the room will say that they either don’t use online technology or they’re not interested in using it,” he said.

“They sometimes get angry because they feel as though they’re being disrespected. They didn’t grow up in an office with computers, they don’t own a computer, they don’t want to or can’t spend the money on one and, therefore, they still like to feel that they’re valued.

“They feel as if they’re being pushed aside a bit and ignored. I think it’s really important that we recognise and value people’s choices.”

Coles has responded to the backlash, saying it would closely monitor customer demand for printed catalogues over the coming weeks.

“We are continuing to produce a printed catalogue for customers who prefer to use them. We will continue to assess customer demand for a printed catalogue to ensure we are using the most effective channels to communicate with our customers,” a spokesperson said.

“The printed catalogue will be available in your local Coles supermarket.”

Does it bother you that Coles will cease delivering its catalogues? Would you be okay with the environmental trade-off over your inconvenience? Is Mr Henschke right, or is he creating a storm in a teacup?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.


Supermarkets urged to stop promoting unhealthy foods

Do supermarkets need to be more responsible for Australians' dietary habits?

Supermarket moves to support over 70s in self-isolation

Woolworths ramps up online delivery capacity to support elderly and vulnerable Australians.

Customers left questioning supermarkets’ integrity

Woolies sends ‘shocking' tweet and Coles caves in to slow-to-adapt customers.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading

Finance News

How much you can save on electricity in your home state

As we prepare to head into the colder winter months, there is good news for those worried about heating costs...


What is thrombocytopenia, and why did it stop the AstraZeneca jab?

Anthony Zulli, Victoria University; Maja Husaric, Victoria University; Maximilian de Courten, Victoria University, and Vasso Apostolopoulos, Victoria University Australia's medical...


Ways to manage death anxiety

Winston Churchill once said: "Any man who says he is not afraid of death is a liar." But while it's...

Food and Recipes

Rick Stein's Autumn Vegie Soup

"One of the rather pathetic realities of the fact that so many of the restaurants in France are disappointing these...


Australians give big thumbs down to the public service

Only 27 per cent of Australians believe the public service acts in the public interest and only 22 per cent...

Brain health

Normal tension glaucoma linked to cognitive impairment

Australian researchers say they have established a link between the eye condition glaucoma and cognitive impairment, the state that often...


Old wives' tales put to the test

Alice Shaw-Beckett, from cleaning company Cleanipedia, dissects 13 old wives' tales related to cleaning and pest control to discover whether...

Travel & Motoring

Consider this when deciding on a roadside assist deal

A reader raised an interesting point that I hadn’t considered before. When she bought her new car, it included -...