In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Iceland have introduced an elderly shopping hour to some of its stores.
Aimed at giving elderly people the chance to buy essential food without the panic of the rest of the public, the elderly shopping hour is expected to be between 08:00 and 09:00.
In the Republic of Ireland, Lidl and Tesco have both also introduced an elderly shopping hour, as have Woolworths in Australia.
Iceland produced a statement on their social media channels explaining their decision, and they pinned it to the top of their Twitter page.
It has gained a fair amount of publicity, and yesterday (16th March), the BBC article about it was on the front page of the BBC News website.
However, a Daily Mail article was published yesterday with the headline: “Pensioners slam Woolworths’ ‘elderly shopping hour’ as a PR stunt after thousands arrived to find empty shelves and massive queues with toilet paper running out TWO MINUTES after doors opened”.
Pensioners were queuing to get into Woolworths stores in Australia, and many essential items were sold out within a couple of minutes or not there at all.
So, is an elderly shopping hour a PR stunt, or is a genuine gesture for elderly people to get the essential food they need without any chaos?
Obviously, it’s impossible to tell, but I’m leaning more towards it being a genuine gesture for elderly people.
None of the companies seem to have gone over the top with publicising the decision, and they don’t seem to be just doing it to gain media attention.
Although some people in Australia have said it was a PR stunt, many others have said it was very helpful for the elderly people to get their shopping.
Given the current circumstances across the world, it surely isn’t the time to be coming up with PR stunts as some suggest this is, especially when they involve vulnerable people such as the elderly.
If they were to do it as a PR stunt, would they get anything from it? I highly doubt it. They would certainly be hugely criticised for doing a PR stunt aimed at vulnerable people in a very difficult time.
Many news outlets have publicised the shops offering the elderly shopping hour, but it looks as though much of the coverage is surrounding Woolworths in Australia rather than UK outlets.
In my opinion, any business would struggle to get away with a PR stunt of this nature at any point, never mind given the current panic and uncertainty throughout the world.
I believe it is a genuine goodwill gesture. For me, it’s not a PR stunt given that there hasn’t been a huge deal of media coverage, and that no elderly people within the UK seem to have claimed that they believe it is a PR stunt.