Bad maths

Do you believe everything you hear? Probably not, but there are some sources that we consider more reliable than others… here in the UK, you would expect the British Broadcasting  Corporation (BBC) to get their facts right. Sadly this is not the case…

Watching the news on the TV this lunchtime, we were presented with a report about the CEO of Sainsbury’s supermarket stepping down after 10 years. During that time, we were told, he had overseen a massive increase in business. They gave us some figures:

10 million extra customers each week

That sounds high, I commented. Too right, said Mr Snail-of-happiness. So we did our sums:

Let's play with some numbers

We didn’t need our abacus!

10 years = 10 x 52 weeks = 520 weeks

10,000,000 x 520 = 5,200,000,000

The current population of the world is around 7,200,000,000

So, if we believe the BBC, Sainsbury’s has increased it’s customers by around 5/7 of the entire world population. That’s the increase, mind… they obviously had some customers before that.

Do you still believe everything you hear?


This post is dedicated to Nerd in the Brain and her continuing quest to encourage numeracy.

Leave a comment


  1. I wonder which branch they go to because I certainly don’t want to be in line for a till on a Saturday there.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  2. I suspect a bad case of misplaced decimal, or alternatively, uncontrolled proliferation of zeroes. I suppose the poor man had to justify his existence somehow…


    • I have been thinking about what the real numbers might have been and I suspect that it was the inclusion of the phrase ‘per week’ that was wrong… I am prepared to believe that level of increase over the whole 10-year period.


  3. Clearly you haven’t seen the ad on (our) television for the Qantas cash card. The girl runs out of milk for her breakfast cereal and, with the help of the card and nothing else, goes halfway around the world to pick up a new carton.

    Until this very minute I thought it was just a ridiculous commercial, but now, well it’s obvious. Qantas and Sainsburys are in cahoots to bump up their figures! All I can imagine is the stale cereal and turned milk after the long flight….. 😉


  4. HaHa! 🙂


  5. wscottling

     /  January 30, 2014

    I tend not to believe anything I hear, but I’m skeptical that way. Drove my professors nuts. ^_^


  6. Wow…they should be really proud of 5/7 of the world’s population! 😉 I need to talk to their marketing guy… 😀


  7. Unexpected population of the entire world in the bagging area.



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