OPINION: Don’t stop checking your prices – Bay Bashir, Belle Vue Convenience (Go Local), Middlesbrough

'The trick to raising prices is to get those price bands right so people don’t feel like you’re overcharging them'

Shopping trolley cart shopper aisle generic supermarket

Price increases used to happen once a year, but recently they have been happening every few weeks.

The increases are big, as well. We’re not talking about 2% increases here, we’re talking about 20% increases. Last year, we were selling bread at £1, now it needs to be £1.45 if I’m to keep the same margin. Milk was £1 last year, but now we’re selling it at £1.70, and that’s cheap from us. Last Christmas, a price-marked bottle of Smirnoff was £14.79. Now it’s £16.29. It’s gone up three times to get to that price, which means you might not notice each one.

I’ve been going through all my prices today, making sure they’re right because prices are fluctuating so often and so much at the cash and carry that if I don’t keep up with it, then we’ll be underselling a lot of our products.

If you’re not checking up on your own prices on a weekly or fortnightly basis, then you could be selling something at a loss. So, we’re doing a full overhaul, category by category. It’s quite labour-intensive, but it’s a massive thing for us to get in order. Luckily we can do it centrally from one store’s back office, but it’s then about making sure all the shops have the right prices and are in the correct order.

We used to check the prices every time the Budget came around, and when we did that this year, we could see that the increases from wholesalers was crazy. If you’re not checking it regularly, it can be easy to miss. We’ve got Retail Data Partnership tills, but I don’t want them to change the prices for me according to RRPs. I want to change them myself when I see the need.

The trick to raising prices is to get those price bands right so people don’t feel like you’re overcharging them, but you’re still getting the right margin. I try to fair and honest with customers and people are accepting it, but it’s a big increase. A 20% increase in one item is one thing, but when you multiply that by 100 items, that’s a huge increase in your weekly basket spend.

For us, the key is to ensure that we’ve always good availability, no matter what, on our 100 bestselling lines. We might not be the cheapest, but people know that we’re fair on price and that we don’t ever run out of stock. If a store can’t stock even one of those lines, I want to know about it and I want to know why.

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