Cost of a weekly shop soars by £7 under coronavirus lockdown

Supermarket bosses blame stockpilers as cost of a weekly shop soars by £7 under coronavirus lockdown – with shortage of farm workers set to trigger further price hikes

  • Cost of a weekly shop has risen as much as £7 during the coronavirus lockdown
  • Prices have risen at supermarkets like Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose
  • Cost of shop at Waitrose increased by over £10, and over £9 at Morrisons
  • Data indicates that stockpiling had a dramatic effect on price of goods
  • It follows supermarket decision to slash promotions in bid to curb panic-buying 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

The cost of a weekly shop has risen as much as £7 as supermarkets removed promotions to curb panic-buying in the initial phase of the pandemic.

Data published by a price watcher indicates that prices have risen across UK supermarkets in the past 12 months to April 17, 2020. 

Weekly shops at Asda are £6.74 more expensive (£66.91 to £73.65), while shoppers at Morrisons have experienced a £9.17 rise (£71.37 to £80.54).

The cost of a weekly shop at Waitrose increased by £10.67 (£80.15 to £90.82). 

At Sainsbury’s and Tesco, the cost of a weekly shop rose by £5.20 (£71.06 to £76.26) and £6.14 (£71.64 to £77.78) respectively this year.

The cost of a weekly shop has risen as much as £7 as supermarkets removed promotions to curb panic-buying in the initial phase of the pandemic (pictured, shopping, March 19, 2020)

People queue outside a Sainsbury’s in London as the pandemic grips the UK (March 19, 2020) 

The data – available on The Grocer – showed that weekly shops at Morrisons and Waitrose rose by 9.6 per cent and 4.8 per cent from March.

An average increase across all supermarkets of £2.60 was measured. 

Individual items saw a bigger increase. For instance, instant coffee went up by more than £1 (£4.50 to £5.86 since March), while the price of laundry detergent increased by around £2 (from £7.90 to £9.40 since the end of February.   

The analysis tracked the cost of a basket of 33 commonly bought items, like rice, pasta, meats, alcohol, bread, tins of soup, and tea bags.

It indicates that stockpiling had a dramatic effect on the prices of goods at supermarkets that slashed their promotions as hysteria gripped panic-buyers.  

People follow social distancing rules as they queue outside an Asda (March 27, 2020)

Shoppers walk past empty shelves in a supermarket in Rugby, England (March 19, 2020)

A man observes social distancing outside Tesco Express in Hampshire (March 28, 2020)

The data also follows analysis from the Office for National Statistics which showed that the cost of a basket of high-demand products sol online – including pet food, medicine, and nappies – increased by 1.8 per cent in the past week.   

Liliana Danila, an economist at the trade body British Retail Consortium, did tell The Daily Telegraph that it is normal for prices to fluctuate. 

Other analysts said it was too early to say whether the coronavirus pandemic had caused inflation, pointing out that seasonal fluctuations are common.

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association said it was likely that increases in prices of goods including pet food were caused by the removal of discounts. 

Supermarkets removed special offers during the pandemic to curb panic-buying. Scenes of frantic stockpilers horrified the nation.   

There are also concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could cause price increases this summer, with farmers claiming a lack of labour could push up costs. 

According to the National Farmers Union, the cost of fresh produce could rise unless the industry can fill vacancies for fruit and vegetable pickers.  

Defra said: ‘This Government has absolute confidence in our dedicated farmers – they are working around the clock to keep the nation fed and even stand ready to increase production further if demand continues to grow.’ 

Shoppers wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus outbreak as they do their weekend shopping at a supermarket in London (April 17, 2020)

Open letter to UK shoppers: from the British Retail Consortium 

To our customers,

We know that many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). We want to let you know that we are doing everything we can so that you and your families have the food and essentials you need.

We are working closely with the Government and our suppliers to keep food moving quickly through the system and making more deliveries to our stores to ensure our shelves are stocked. Those of us with online delivery and click-and-collect services are running them at full capacity to help you get the products you need when you need them. 

We thank all our colleagues in stores and supply chains who are working day and night to keep the nation fed.

But we need your help too.

We would ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop. We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.

There is enough for everyone if we all work together.

Together we can make sure we are looking out for family, friends, neighbours. Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home.

We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge. Serving you and keeping you and everyone who works with us safe will always be our priority.

(published March 2020

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