Waitrose and Co-op cut prices for tough times

Waitrose and Co-op cut prices for tough times

Waitrose and Co-op have both announced they are cutting food prices in the run-up to Christmas in recognition of tough economic times.

The coronavirus crisis continues to hit many parts of the UK economy hard, with unemployment rising.

Companies are expected to cut more jobs after the government’s furlough scheme ends on 31 October.

Supermarket prices rose after lockdown, but are now only 0.5% higher than the beginning of the year, analysts said.

The coronavirus lockdown in March tipped the economy into recession and triggered panic-buying in many large food stores, which were forced to limit the number of items people could buy.

At the time, supermarkets scrapped many special offers, while prices rose 2.5% nationwide in the first month of lockdown, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

However, as panic-buying eased, those prices drifted back down again.

In the run-up to Christmas and beyond, many people in the UK are facing tough economic times, said Waitrose, which is cutting prices on 200 of its most popular own-label products.

James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, said: “This year has been incredibly challenging for consumers and we know times are tough for many, so we’re reducing prices to provide our customers with great value on the items they buy most.

“Despite offering lower prices, we’re maintaining the quality, high welfare and ethical sourcing that we’re renowned for, so shoppers can spend less without compromising on what they value.”

Similarly, Co-op is investing £50m to lower prices on 300 branded and own-brand products and is launching a value range.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food chief executive, said: “Value is uppermost in the minds of shoppers and offering good, honest prices and fairly sourced products is important to help shoppers balance their budgets.”

A spokesperson for Co-op added: “The economic uncertainty means shoppers are looking for value for essential everyday products.

“Price has become a key driver for value-conscious consumers, particularly with rising uncertainty given the economic impact of the pandemic and as employees move from furlough to the new job support scheme in the run-up to Christmas.”

The price cuts follow similar moves by the main UK supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

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