Shoppers are significantly more likely to buy alcohol and fizzy drinks if they are displayed at the end of supermarket aisles, research has found.
The drinks do not even have to be on special offer for people to buy much more than they normally would, according to experts at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, based at the University of Cambridge.
They looked at the sales and shop layout for one major supermarket shop over the course of a year. This included shelf space, price, price promotion and weekly sales volumes for three types of alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) and three non-alcoholic drinks (fizzy drinks, coffee and tea).
Even when factoring in price, end-of-aisle displays increased sales of beer by 23 per cent, 34 per cent for wine and 46 per cent for spirits. Fizzy drink sales also went up 52 per cent, while the figure was 74 per cent for coffee and 114 per cent for tea.
When lower prices were taken into account, the biggest impact was on increasing alcohol sales.
For every one per cent cut in the price of alcohol, there was around a five per cent rise in sales volume. Lower prices had less of an impact on the sale of non-alcoholic drinks.
Writing in the the journal Social Sciences and Medicine, the researchers said: “End-of-aisle displays appear to have a large impact on sales of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages.
“Restricting the use of aisle ends for alcohol and other less healthy products might be a promising option to encourage healthier in-store purchases, without affecting availability or cost of products.”
Dr Ryota Nakamura, from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, said: “Our study shows...that these types of displays dramatically influence people’s decisions to purchase alcohol and carbonated drinks. Prohibiting or limiting this marketing tactic for less healthy options, or utilising this for healthier ones, holds the promising possibility of encouraging healthier lifestyle choices.”