Supermarket offers | Inflation has taken over the supermarkets: we buy less but we buy more

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 Supermarket offers |  Inflation has taken over the supermarkets: we buy less but we buy more

The increase in supermarket prices that accompanied Spanish and Valencian families for months did not stop. Just when it seemed that the situation was starting to normalize, the olive oil boom alerted consumers again, who after more than a year of inflationary crisis began to change their buying habits. Because today a customer goes to the stores many times, even if they buy less.

This is not a feeling but a practice confirmed by one of the main chains. Javier Quiles, director of external relations of Consum, stated this at the Retail Forum Roadshow 2023 held in Valencia. In his speech he emphasized that this trend has already appeared in the previous economic crisis of 2008 and it is now emerging again even though a large part of families continues to choose to make a large weekly purchase .

A thesis confirmed by experts. Leticia Poole, associate professor of economics at the European University of Valencia, says that now “we prefer to make more trips and pay slowly and only for what we are sure we will use.” Poole points out that this practice is common in times “typical of diminishing returns” like the present. Because in the last two years Valencian salaries have increased by more than 4% on average, but inflation during this period has almost tripled this figure.

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The reason for this change in habits is twofold. The main thing is that they want to find the best offers and compare prices more than ever. Something that was confirmed in the report ‘Radiography of consumption in the Valencian Community’, a study carried out by 40dB for the Office of Commerce and Territory (Pateco) of the Council of Chambers of the Valencian Community which concluded that 51.9% of Valencians struggle to find them compared to 44.9% in 2020. Something that also brings a little commitment to neighborhood stores.

On the other hand, people prefer to travel and buy more every day to waste the minimum amount of food that in the Valencian Community has become no less than 10.7% more expensive in a year. A number two tenths higher than the Spanish average. “We don’t plan too much because we don’t want to fill the pantry and risk throwing something away,” Poole said.

“Another trend we’re seeing more and more is that more low-value products are being purchased,” Quilis said. That is, the client left the most classic brands to switch to whites. They usually have a lower price, although sometimes at the cost of some quality. But not only that, they seek what Poole assures that in economics they are called “inferior goods” that allow the substitution of some that require more expenses.

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This is something supported by the Association of Consumers and Users (OCU), which confirms that the consumption of fish, some meats and olive oil is reduced. On the other hand, chicken meat or vegetables have re-emerged, which are suitable and cheaper substitutes. Although experts warn that “there can also be a bad substitution” that only leads to an increase in the amount of carbohydrates that are more filling, such as pasta.

Beyond this issue, another of the bets of consumers is to avoid more fresh products, which are more perishable and may have higher prices, giving more prominence to frozen products. Vicente Soto, CEO of Fripozo, admitted in the same forum as Quiles that his company, which specializes in this type of products, proves it in its own sales balance. Along these lines, the OCU is clear that the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has also fallen (although to a lesser extent than fish or oil), as well as some dairy products. A practice that is also worrisome if it leads to the end of a balanced diet.

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Price spiral

The current inflationary situation began to slow down in recent months, although it is a fact that food continues to have a higher rate than other products. For the representatives of the companies gathered at the Retail Forum Roadshow 2023, everything indicates that we are nearing the end of this spiral. Although they accept that wars and the current state of insecurity continue to have an impact.

In this sense, the debate has arisen again about whether or not it is necessary to expand the Government’s measures to reduce the impact of this crisis, the main protagonist of which is the VAT reduction that started on January 1. No its reach is very high because the price increase soon makes it almost imperceptible to families but makes products like oil 5% cheaper. For this reason, consumer associations are committed to maintaining the measure or even increasing it to other products such as meat and fish.