Threshers counts the pennies

It’s not often that a high street retailer manages to outrage the moral majority by expanding its product range – particularly if the new products include cola bottles and gob stoppers.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

But that’s what happened to off-licence chain Threshers when it decided earlier this year to start selling penny sweets. It was looking to cash in on the recent nostalgia craze, which has also brought Cadbury’s Wispa bar and dandelion and burdock back to our shelves in recent months.

However, Threshers has now come under fire from disgruntled employees, who appear to think selling penny sweets will encourage more children to buy alcohol. One huffily told the Guardian it was “morally dubious and socially careless,” as it would fuel youth disorder and possibly destroy the world as we know it (or something).

Anti-alcohol campaigners even condemned the move on the grounds that the sale of the sweets sent out a message that alcohol was, by association, completely harmless.

The UK high street is a dog-eat-dog world, and specialist retailers need to evolve to survive. As a rather bemused Thresher’s spokesperson said, the chain is also trialling sales of everything from sliced bread to financial services – should it also avoid granary loaves in case they lure in passing teenagers?

Here at MT, we don’t claim to be experts on the teenage mind. But we can’t help thinking there’s a couple of flaws in this theory. For a start, we don’t know many 15-year-olds who would be lured into any kind of shop purely by the prospect of buying penny sweets. And even if they did, are they really likely to buy a 4-pack of Special Brew purely on impulse?

What’s more, if you’re trying to buy booze illegally, ordering a bag of sherbet dips to go with your Diamond White seems like a pretty good way to draw attention to yourself…

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