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Tesco's checkout signs

Over the last few days there has been a lot of press coverage about Tesco's new checkout signs. Some of this coverage suggested that the retailer chose the wording of their new signs based on our recommendation. However, this is not the case.


Reflecting public opinion about the signs, we wrote to Tesco some months ago suggesting that they changed the wording of their 'Ten items or less' signs, as it is grammatically incorrect. We suggested that they alter it to 'Ten items or fewer', or 'Baskets only'. It became apparent that the company had received a lot of other correspondence on the matter.

Tesco has now changed the wording on some of its checkout signs to 'Up to ten items'. Although some people have contacted us to say that they feel this is potentially misleading, similar signs are in common use in many other retailers, and are generally assumed to mean 'up to, and including ten items.'  We recognise and appreciated Tesco's quick and positive reaction to public comment, but were not asked to advise them with the chosen wording in this instance.

We held an impromptu survey with local shoppers this week.  It resulted in a majority vote for a suggestion from a member of the public, Ken Heale, following a similar experience some years ago as a passing shopper in a supermarket in Chicago, USA where the staff were discussing the wording for a similar situation .  Noticing Ken's English accent the supermarket manager took this as a sign of authority on language matters.  They adopted Ken's suggestion without hesitation -  'Not more than ten items.'

We believe this bears out one of our main principles which is that it is always best to test a solution with the intended audience.

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