Saturday, October 23, 2021

Retailers are hiking up their prices this Christmas

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Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Costco is now limiting toilet paper and water purchases to three a year

When Oprah Winfrey recently celebrated the anniversary of her 21st lifetime bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, she took to Instagram to list all the boxes of paper towels and wine she’d bought in its year. The mantra is the staple for every author and reader, but this holiday season it seems to have gone beyond just a practical holiday gift for friends and family.

As retailers feel the impact of rising inflation and rising demand, there are increasingly subtle price increases customers may not be aware of.

These products might seem mundane – toilet paper, water and toilet paper towels – but when you think about it, they have a vital role to play in your life.

And as supermarkets like Woolworths, Asda and ALDI and budget brands like Lidl and Aldi take market share from the bigger players, they are constantly having to introduce new products at cheaper prices and adjust their pricing accordingly.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Costco has been criticised by Democrats over its pension scheme changes

But if it’s supermarket price wars you’re after, you may have other options. The Independent revealed that Amazon is planning to enter the grocery sector in Britain and in July, Morrisons committed to wholesale grocery supply and distribution services for British food producers by 2022, stocking up to 80,000 products at three stores and giving away millions of pounds worth of its produce.

Retail analyst Neil Saunders said Morrisons was a “significant player” but admitted he was looking out for the discount market.

“Nobody likes to see retailers jockeying for position, so it’s good to see Morrisons so keen to reach out to producers and work with them to develop products that deliver quality and taste at a price point that makes sense for consumers,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

But for shoppers who are looking for a slice of the mainstream with their shopping, it looks like they’ll need to shop around this Christmas.

And the latest quarterly data suggests there may be one quick fix for those out-of-sorts on grocery prices – look to the middle of the supermarket aisle.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption As supermarket prices rise, customers will look to other options – such as the discount sector

Foam has been flying off the shelves in many of the UK’s major supermarkets this year.

It was introduced in the UK by Primark’s warehouse chain in 2007. Initially it was a cheap way to solve the seasonal problem of keeping shelves spick and span during Christmas, but its popularity in the Middle East has led to its popularity in the UK too.

Now, basic water filters are becoming the new “health craze” as shoppers seek to curb their ill-health.

Gnawing costs and rising household bills have seen prices in supermarkets soar, while gross electricity and gas prices are also up 8.4% and 9.8% respectively on the same period last year.

And one particular currency which is not actually going anywhere has also been causing some supermarkets to rethink their pricing strategies.

Walmart, owned by the US supermarket giant, has been the subject of much conjecture this year. From the thousands of anti-Walmart employees who have staged protests to the very public departure of the co-founder of Sam’s Club, the retailer, which owns the supermarket chain, and, in 2018 has faced its share of controversies.

Image copyright AP Image caption There is speculation that Walmart could seek to restructure the Walmart empire in the future

On top of this, consumers can now expect to see more retailers exploring new ways to present their businesses online and in stores.

As the next quarter of figures come in, this analysis is expected to continue on as the stakes for the retail sector continue to rise.

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