The AFR released interesting information about Coles’ plastic bags debacle. Apparently, the ban (introduced on 1 July) has impacted sales and EBIT. Now that Coles has decided to provide free reusable bags to repair the damage, the media went into a hysterical spin, levying heavy criticism on Coles for backing out. Yet, the AFR revealed that a mere 5,000 people signed a petition demanding the re-introduction of the ban and Coles boycott. Arguably an immaterial group, but highly vocal. A lesson here for retailers: it rarely pays to mix politics and contentious issues with business. After all, Coles’ number one objective should be to supply groceries.