Disagreement over ban on non-essential 'middle aisle' sales

Disagreement Over Ban On Non-Essential 'Middle Aisle' Sales
Shelves in a supermarket near Cardiff in Wales taped off after being deemed non-essential. Photo: PA Images.
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By Vivienne Clarke

There has been pushback against the decision to stop the sale of “middle aisle” products deemed non-essential after major supermarket chains came under Government pressure.

Education spokesperson for the Social Democrats, Gary Gannon said that the centre aisles in supermarkets should remain open after the Government threatened a clampdown on retailers flouting Level 5 restrictions.

It comes as Aldi and Lidl bowed to pressure after initially resisting calls last week to block shelves selling children’s toys, clothes, homewares and other items.

However, the Government has rejected calls to lift its ban on the sale of children’s clothes and other household items in supermarkets according to the Irish Examiner.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it would be “not fair” to smaller retailers forced to closed under level 5 lockdown conditions if large supermarkets were allowed to sell so-called “non-essential” items and “exploit” the lockdown conditions.


In recent days, gardaí have visited shops across the country to advise them they could not sell baby clothes, homewares and other non-food and drink items.

Children's clothes

The Government needed to rectify the situation by using the appropriate communication to “get buy-in” from the community, Mr Gannon told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Gannon was responding to comments by Minister of State for Retail, Damien English on RTÉ television’s Prime Time on Thursday night when he said that children’s socks were not essential items.

The Minister had been defending the Government's policy of ensuring that mixed retailers sold only goods that were classed as essential, saying “clothes are not essential.”

Mr Gannon said that children’s clothes were essential and that there was no point in closing the "non-essential" aisles in supermarkets at present as most were in buildings that were large and well ventilated.

Aldi and Lidl stop non-essential ‘middle aisle’ sa...
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Under the Level 5 restrictions “retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail should make arrangements for the separation of relevant areas.” Clothing is not included in the list of essential items.

Last weekend, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told RTÉ This Week that the logic behind the ban was that to allow sales of these kind to continue would be unfair on the shops that had been forced to close.

Retailers needed to abide by the regulations which would be enforced by the Gardaí, he said.

His comments came as business leaders had warned that smaller shops obeying the rules could reopen in a campaign of disobedience.

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