Everything is becoming more expensive; for the consumers, it’s a constant struggle at the checkout after a trip to the supermarket. Will this price storm ever end? And if supermarkets made so much money during corona, why don’t we, as consumers, notice anything about it? OMROEP BRABANT asked five questions about these skyrocketing prices to two experts.
Do supermarket prices ever go down?
To start with, the higher prices are a result of several factors, explains market researcher Norman Buysse of GfK: “We had COVID, which resulted in an imbalance in the flow of goods. People started hoarding, and shortages occurred and that has driven up prices. Now the war and rising energy prices are playing into it.”
That war is causing shortages of raw materials, such as grain and oils like sunflower oil. The consumers have to bear the rising transportation and energy costs, all higher costs. “This war is going to end one day, so prices will go down again at some point, as long as it remains peaceful in the world. In the Netherlands, supermarkets have a lot of competition, people can choose between supermarkets to keep their expenses low. So if they can, the Supermarkets will lower the prices. I don’t expect it to happen this year, but as soon as it can they will.”
Why has everything become so much more expensive in supermarkets, while they made so much money in corona time?
This is not as simple as it seems, inquiries show. The supermarkets did have 10% more turnover in corona time but they also incurred higher costs, Buysse explains: “Products are more expensive, just like energy prices, transport. During the period of the corona, prices hardly ever rose. It takes a while for price increases to find their way to the consumer, I expect that we are now more or less in the peak.”
From a social point of view, you would expect supermarkets to give something back, but economically it doesn’t work that way, Ter Hark says. “Supermarkets always apply almost the same margin, which is about 25% gross. As an example: suppose you buy something for €2, then it is purchased for €1.50. From that 50 cents, all expenses must be paid, such as personnel and real estate.”
Sometimes it seems like packages have gotten smaller, is that right?
According to Buysse, that is certainly possible, because that is also a way to cut costs for a supermarket or a manufacturer. “Reducing packaging size can also be a tactic. So it is wise to look closely at the volume of a package. You often see a new packaging with ‘improved recipe’ on it, then you have to pay attention to how much it contains.”
Does it pay to switch supermarkets?
The price differences between supermarkets are not huge but it can pay to visit different stores. “The purchase price of products is almost the same for supermarkets, there is no difference in that. What does make a difference are the costs that supermarkets incur. You can see that in the stores, in the decoration and a lower service level,” says Ter Hark. And that results in slightly lower prices at discount stores, among others.
It’s also worth looking through the advertising folders. “Supermarkets make little profit on these action products, the actions are mainly there to bring in customers. If you make a round of different supermarkets with offers, it can certainly make a difference.”
Are there also products in the supermarket that do get cheaper?
Buysse: “No, I don’t expect that. For all products, there are rising energy prices, and those costs will be passed on.”
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING classes.