Making sense of the past seven days
Barely a week goes by these days when one of the big supermarkets doesn't introduce some new initiative where it seeks to out-green its rivals.

The rules are as follows:

1)Think of something your rivals have yet to do

2)Announce it on a Friday, when the business news is a bit thin

3)Get the chief executive down to one of your branches to do an interview

with Declan Curry, so you can tell BBC1 viewers just how green your

company is

This morning it was Justin King's turn, but Sir Terry Leahy and Andy Bond have been just as eager to demonstrate their green credentials. No doubt new Morrisons chief Marc Bolland is eagerly dreaming up a scheme of his own to outdo his rivals.

It is, of course, a good thing that UK retailers are becoming more environmentally aware. By its very nature, grocery retailing has a major environmental impact - both in stores and in the sourcing process - so anything supermarkets can do to reduce their impact is great news.

They are clearly responding to demand from customers who have ever-higher expectations of the companies they shop with. And, as Marks & Spencer has shown, a healthy side effect is that a reputation for being environmentally responsible can generate sales.

However, there is a real danger that the supermarkets' public pronouncements will induce initiative fatigue among shoppers. Consumers will see through the endless announcements and point-scoring, and the net result will be that they stop caring.

The best result for the environment would be for retailers to work together to lessen the impact of the industry on the environment, and collaborate on best practice. But that would mean sharing the glory, so don't hold your breath.

The 2007 Retail Week Awards were launched last night at London's Soho House. Over the 12 years they have been in existence, the awards have become firmly established as the gold standard in retailing - the competition is fierce, but winning one of the awards is a mark of genuine excellence. Go to for more details and to enter online.