UK's biggest supermarkets will act to hide lads' mags from children's view
We are delighted to announce that Sainsburys, Morrisons, Waitrose, BP*, ASDA, The Co-operative Group and Tesco have all pledged to support Mumsnet's campaign to keep lad mags out of children's view in all their stores.
Following our survey, which found nine out of ten parents wanted lads' mags out of sight, Mumsnet called on major news retailers to take action to ensure that magazines with sexual images on the cover were kept out of children's sight in stores.
We think it's great that so many retailers are supporting Mumsnet's campaign, working hard to make sure that lads' mags are kept out of view of children. We're very pleased that Sainsburys, Morrisons, Waitrose, BP, ASDA, The Co-operative Group and Tesco are responding to the concerns of parents and taking action. But it's frustrating that WHSmith are arguing that a shelf height of 1.2m, that of an eight-year-old child, is a sufficient barrier where other retailers have clearly succeeded in taking further action.
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents also felt unable to support our campaign, as it cannot ensure that its members take the necessary action. As individual newsagents were identified as the biggest offenders in our original survey, you may be keen to contact your local newsagents about your concerns as this could be the most effective way to bring about changes in their display policies. Here's a template letter for you to use or adapt:
Display of 'lads' mags'
As someone who regularly shops in your store, I am writing to ask whether you would be willing to promise that magazines and newspapers with adult images on the cover (such as Nuts, Zoo, Maxim, Stuff, the Sunday Sport and the Daily Sport) will be kept out of children's sight in your display racks.
I'm sure you agree that these images are not suitable for young children. In response to a campaign by the parenting website Mumsnet (www.mumsnet.com/campaigns), major retailers such as Sainsburys, Morrisons, Waitrose, ASDA, the Co-op and Tesco have promised to take action to ensure that these publications are displayed appropriately. This means on a top shelf that is well above the eye-line of children, or behind modesty covers, or even just stacked in such a way that the titles are visible but the images are not.
I would ask that you too agree to take these actions, so I can feel confident shopping here with my family.
Mumsnet spoke to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) about the campaign, but the NFRN was unable to sign the pledge on behalf of its members, so it is down to you to decide whether to sign up.
Sainsburys and Morrisons, which have operated similar policies for some years, have told Mumsnet that it does not affect the sales figures of these titles, and I feel sure that such a policy would pay off for your business because of the goodwill you would receive.
I would very much appreciate it if you could let me know what you think.
Talk about the display in that individual shop – is Maxim currently next to Dr Who magazine? Is the Daily Sport on a shelf at toddler eye-level?
If the shop is near a supermarket that has signed up to the campaign, you could gently point out that the shopkeeper's response will inform your decision about where to buy your Daily Telegraph/kingsize Dairy Milk/book of stamps in future.
Mention your children's ages, and any comments they've made about the covers of magazines.
Thanks so much for all your support for this campaign. Do keep using the talk thread to let us know what you think, whether the stores that have signed up are following through, and how your local newsagent responds. We will also continue to contact other magazine retailers to ask them to sign up.
A company spokesperson for Sainsburys said:
We know that this is an important issue for many of our shoppers and this is why we were one of the first retailers to introduce modesty covers back in 2006. We hope that other retailers follow Sainsbury's lead in signing up to Mumsnet's campaign.
Morrisons, which had a pre-existing policy of using modesty covers for lads' mags, will continue to do so and pledged its support for the campaign.
A spokesperson from Waitrose said:
Waitrose stock a very limited selection of Men's Lifestyle Magazines, and in support of Mumsnet's campaign, on the occasion that the publications feature covers that could be considered controversial, we would ask that the publisher polybag or wrap them.
ASDA has ordered compulsory 'modesty boards' for all its stores, and has also changed its policy so that men's lifestyle publishers can no longer pay to have their publications displayed at the front of stores. Its spokesperson said:
Asda is proud to be a longstanding supporter of the Let Girls Be Girls campaign as we take our commitments as a family retailer extremely seriously. We are doing everything we can to keep men's weeklies out of the sight of children by removing them from prominent displays and concealing covers with 'modesty boards'.
Last year, we introduced a trial in more than 100 stores which put these titles at the back of the top shelf, obscuring their front covers with other magazines. We are pleased with the success of this trial and are now rolling this out across all Tesco stores. We are already reviewing the use of bagging and 'modesty units' where these niche magazines are concerned.
A spokesperson from the Co-operative Group said:
We are happy to sign up to Mumsnet's campaign on 'Lads Mags'. Plans for our newspaper and magazine fixtures will be issued to all stores in April to reinforce our policy. Lads' mags will always be merchandised on the top tier of all fixtures and be overlapped to avoid overt display of sexual images. The Daily Sport will be merchandised with the back page on display.
A spokesperson for the NFRN (National Federation of Retail Newsagents) said:
I regret that the NFRN is not in a position to sign up to the Mumsnet pledge; this is simply because we are not a retailer ourselves but an employers' association representing independent retail newsagents who are all owners of their own businesses, and, as we have no legal powers of enforcement, we are unable to commit their allegiance to the pledge. Having said that, we do recommend to our members that they adopt a family-friendly policy for the display of adult and lads' mags titles, which includes keeping them away from children's titles and above children's eye level.
A spokesperson for WHSmith said:
We have a strict display policy in place that requires men's lifestyle magazine titles be displayed at minimum height of 1.2m, equivalent to the average adult chest/shoulder height. This policy applies to all our stores, in both high street and travel locations, and regular updates are issued to stores to remind them of the importance of compliance with our policy. The policy requires men's lifestyle magazines be displayed away from children's or women's magazines, and away from other product ranges which children may be shopping for, e.g. toys and stationery. In addition we work closely with the magazine publishers to ensure that their products meet the expectations of our customers. Where we receive customer complaints about an issue in a certain publication, WHSmith commits to raise these concerns directly with the publisher.
Although we do not currently have any plans to make further changes to the way we display these titles, the feedback from the Mumsnet survey is valuable to us as we try to strike the right balance in meeting the needs of all our customers.
BP has pledged to take action in the 350 stores that are owned and operated by BP, or owned and franchised by BP. However, it will not be able to ensure that the same measures are taken in independently-owned stories on BP sites.