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Anti-poverty campaign puts pressure on retail
Supermarkets & grocery storesUnited Kingdom
Amid threats of inflation, the very poorest in society – for whom a larger share of their income goes to essentials and utilities – stand to lose out the most; but as retailers seek to shore up their businesses ahead of concurrent cost increases, increased attention now turns to grocery retailers’ responsibility to society at large.
Why it matters
Jack Monroe, the activist and blogger whose recipes cater to the tightest of budgets, has written a widely-shared op-ed arguing that the true cost-of-living-crisis is far worse for the poorest in society than the consumer price index’s 5.4%.
Pricing matters hugely to brands and retailers, as it feeds into the experience and perception of value. While making sure customers are satisfied allows brands to raise prices over time, brands that consider themselves socially responsible must also consider the poorest in society.
Monroe’s piece goes into detail on the changes in supermarket prices:
“Last year the Smart Price pasta in my local Asda was 29p for 500g. Today, it is unavailable, so the cheapest bag is 70p; a 141% price rise for the same product in more colourful packaging.”
It also points to some of the grimmer business signals that have come out. Appearing alongside Monroe on ITV, managing director of the supermarket Iceland noted that “we are starting to lose customers to food banks and, not to be dramatic, to hunger”.
The response is a new tracking index that will attempt to capture the true cost of inflation to the most vulnerable in society.
While many of the major supermarkets have now pegged a series of items to the discounters like Lidl and Aldi, fearing a repeat of the upstarts’ huge market share increases following the financial crisis, the UK is particularly attuned to food costs following a pandemic in which premier league footballers clashed with the government on food poverty. Retailers will have to navigate a more sceptical, choosy public should the campaign gain traction.
Sourced from The Guardian, Plymouth Herald, WARC. Image: Pexels