High street prices fall at fastest pace in two years
Prices on the British high street fell at their fastest pace in nearly two years, and the coronavirus outbreak will only add to price pressures, according to an industry body.
Shop prices fell by 0.8 per cent in the first week of March, the biggest fall since May 2018, following a 0.6 per cent decline in February, according to figures from market research firm Nielsen.
Fresh food prices rose a modest 0.4 per cent, as lower global prices in 2019 filtered through, limiting the price rises of meat, dairy and fish products. Non-food prices fell 1.9 per cent in early March, as household spending remained low.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “There are a number of price pressures arising from the coronavirus crisis.”
“Food prices, particularly of fresh produce, may be impacted by higher costs on seasonal farm labour, while non-food prices will be pushed down by lower demand.”
“It is likely that the combination of future economic uncertainty and job losses, whether realised or potential, will drive people to reconsider their spending patterns and to save more.”
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Grocery sales at UK supermarkets soared by £467m as customers stockpiled amid escalating fears of a lockdown, according to Nielsen figures released yesterday.
Food sales jumped 22 per cent year-on-year in the week ending 14 March driven by an increase in household items and long-lasting foods.
Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “The week ending 14 March was the first week we witnessed retailers come under significant pressure to serve consumers, as supply chains were stretched in order to keep up with the unprecedented demand from shoppers.”
Separate research published yesterday by Kantar suggested that shoppers adding a few extra items to their baskets and making more frequent trips was causing the shortages.
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