Environmental issues are playing an increasingly important role in shaping shoppers' attitudes, according to a new survey commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
Of the 1,000 people questioned in the GfK NOP poll, 59% said they believed that local shops should charge for carrier bags. It also found that 64% of people would be prepared to pay more for locally sourced products such as milk, bread and vegetables.
The same percentage agreed that people should use their car less for shopping, although this notion was backed by 71% of men and only 57% of women.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said the poll showed customer views and attitudes were changing. He explained: "This poll shows how important it is that every retailer asks themselves how they can make their business greener in a way that means they reap the benefits, not only in cost savings but in local marketing as well.
"This evidence is not sufficient to suggest that the introduction of charging for carrier bags is right for every business, but it does suggest that many more retailers can and should give it serious consideration."
Retailer Andy Thornton, who owns a Budgens store in Crouch End, North London, told delegates at last week's ACS Summit that he was going to eliminate disposable plastic carriers from his store from May 12. After a phase-in period during which he will charge 5p for disposable carriers, he will eventually switch entirely to jute bags and reusable plastic carriers, which he sells for 10p and will replace and recycle on customers' behalf when the bags start to decline.
Tim Pearce of Plymouth & South West Co-op also told delegates at the event that seven stores in its estate have now gone plastic bag-free.